By Spencer DuPuis
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Leesburg (November 6, 2016) – Heritage High School senior Michael Burris has made a commitment to continue his swimming career at Division I University of Alabama starting in the 2017-2018 school year where he will compete in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard individual medley, 400-yard individual medley and the breaststroke legs of medley relays.
“Being committed to a college is probably the most relieving feeling in the world,” the 6-foot Burris said. “Just knowing that all my hard work I put into the sport has paid off means a lot to me. However, this year is a big one for my club team and I still have goals to drop more time and [continue to]steadily improve.”
The Crimson Tide is coached Dennis Pursley, who took over the program in 2012. He along with his coaching staff, have transformed the swim program at Alabama into one of the best in the nation.
“I chose Alabama because I felt it was the best fit both academically and athletically,” Burris said. “I connected with the team, coaches and school very well. They went from being ranked 26th [in the nation]four years ago to sixth this past year. Coach Pursley, Leonhart and Skinner have done an excellent job of rebuilding the team and I want to be part of the rising tide.”
Burris looks to immediately make an impact in the water for the Tide upon arrival next summer as he would likely come in among the fastest breaststroker.
“As of right now, I would be Alabama’s third fastest breaststroker behind highly respectable Anton McKee and Pavel Romanov. They have both scored high in the SEC championships as well as NCAA championships,” Burris said. “When I arrive, both of them will be graduates so I will have to fill in the spot. I think I can possibly have a spot on the medley relay that won the national title last year and become ‘Bama’s top breaststroker. I would like to score in [both]the SEC and NCAA championships.”
Burris — who swims locally for SNOW — mentioned that the tragic loss of one of his good friends last winter has kept him going in the sport.
“I swim because it’s probably the one thing I actually have a burning passion for,” Burris said. “I love starting off my morning before school at 5:15 knowing that each day is a day to get better. My good friend, John Paul Popovich, passed away last winter and his motto keeps me going, ‘Just Keep Swimming’.”
At the high school level, Burris has helped keep the Pride boys swim team relevant over the past two years and will do so this winter as he is set to pick up right where he left off last season when he won two VHSL 4A state titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
“Swimming for Heritage has been an awesome experience,” Burris said. “My freshmen year, I won states with my brother Tim, and good friends Jake Schroth and Phillip Crouch. In my sophomore year, my goal was to win the 200 IM or 100 breast, but I came in second in both. That really fueled me up for my junior year. By junior year, I had become a state champion in both events and the state record holder. This year, I hope to repeat my state titles. I would also like to become captain so I can lead and further support the team and school.”