Next step: Bornstein to swim at Michigan

Most high school boys swim teams are fortunate if they have one swimmer talented enough to commit to a premier college program. This winter’s Ridgefield High team now has two of them.

AJ Bornstein, a senior at RHS, announced last weekend that he will swim for the University of Michigan men’s team, starting with the 2018-19 season. Bornstein’s decision comes a few months after classmate Kieran Smith announced he would be swimming at the University of Florida.

“Ultimately, Michigan offered the best combination of academic and swimming opportunities,” sad Bornstein, who is one of the country’s top junior breaststrokers. “In addition to Michigan, I was strongly considering the the University of Indiana and University of Notre Dame. The choice was a bit drawn out, as I ended up having a tough time choosing between the schools, which I all loved. Michigan felt like the right place for me, and I know will be getting the best quality education and swim training in the country.”

Representing the Ridgefield Aquatic Club, Bornstein amplified his reputation this summer by finishing second in the 200-meter breaststroke and ninth in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Speedo Junior Nationals with personal-best times of 2:13.96 and 1:03.04, respectively.

As a junior at Ridgefield High last winter, Bornstein won the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley at the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championships. He went on to place second in both events at the Class LL meet and was second in the breaststroke at the State Open, breaking his own school record with a time of 56.39 seconds.

“Ever since I began swimming at 6 years old, breaststroke has been my favorite stroke,” said Bornstein. “Honestly, the reason I liked it so much was because I was good at it. It has always come more naturally to me, and is definitely the odd one out of the four strokes, which has always made me feel unique.”

After attending Ridgefield High for his freshman and sophomore years, Bornstein began the 2016-17 school year at the Noble and Greenough School outside Boston, Mass. But the move — which came when his dad received a job transfer — proved temporary, as Bornstein and family members returned to Ridgefield shortly after the start of the boys swim season.

“RHS has such a great community of both athletes and students,” said Bornstein. “It is very difficult to replicate that kind of place to train and learn.”

Before heading to Michigan next fall, Bornstein will work on swimming faster — always a challenge for someone at his level.

“Dropping time is definitely very difficult. To try and improve, we have added a variety of new training programs, including a lifting program we recently began, which will greatly improve my strength,” said Bornstein, who will continue to compete for the Ridgefield Aquatic Club. “In the pool, it's all about hard work day in and day out, making small technical changes, and trying to have as much fun as possible. My primary focus will be on continuing to get stronger and working on my walls (turns), which are my biggest weakness.”

With Bornstein and Smith at the forefront one more time, the Ridgefield High team will look to make runs at post-season titles during the upcoming campaign.

“I think our team has the potential to be very successful this year,” said Bornstein. “We lost a deep and talented senior class, but we are bringing in a very good freshman class and everyone from last year has improved immensely. Individually, I would love to rewrite some of the school and state records.”