This week, senior swimmer Harrison Tran will kill two birds with one stone when he heads to the University of Texas. Not only will he be swimming in his last Texas Hall of Fame Invitational for the Badgers, Tran will also be checking out his future graduate school, where he will start a master’s degree program in finance after graduating from UW in May.
Tran is a quiet contributor on this year’s extremely successful senior class of Badgers. Prior to this season, he’s often flown under the radar in a class of six that includes an Olympian, three multi-time All-Americans, owners of multiple school records and an athlete who finished within the top 10 at his country’s Olympic Trials.
Although he doesn’t have all the accolades, Tran has become an integral part of a team that has a real chance at placing within the top 10 nationally this year. As one of two swimmers on the team that primarily swim the grueling butterfly event, Tran’s role has become even more pronounced as he has rightfully earned his spot on the Badgers’ medley relays and competed at the NCAA Tournament last year.
Earlier this month, Tran’s exponential upward trajectory landed him his first-ever individual NCAA provisional qualifying time in the 100-yard butterfly.
“[Tran is] a hard worker, there’s no doubt about that,” said senior Brett Pinfold, one of Tran’s roommates and close friends.
Tran’s hard work has gotten him to places even he didn’t believe were possible within the last year, including his first Olympic Trials, where he ended up placing within the top 75 in his signature event, the 100-meter butterfly.
“It was a tough, long journey to get [to Olympic Trials],” Tran said. “I missed the cut the previous summer, so I had to go to a meet two or three weeks before. I had to swim one event about four times in order to get the cut, but I eventually got it in the end. Being able to fight through and get it gave me a lot of confidence, especially going into my last season.”
That confidence has started to rub off on the young swimmers he trains with, like freshman Michael Milinovich.
“I would definitely say [Tran is a good training partner],” Milinovich said. “Being able to see what he can do underwater has definitely helped me with things I need to work on.”
Having the luxury of a solid training partner like Milinovich that swims his events is not something Tran has always gotten to enjoy, and it’s had a positive impact on his life both in the pool and out.
“I’m pretty used to not having a training partner, because in high school I didn’t really have one, but it’s pretty nice to have someone like him there,” Tran said. “In practice, Michael’s always there and always pushing me.”
An economics major, Tran is also no slouch in the classroom; he is both a Chancellor’s Scholar and two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Tran has much to look forward to before he graduates in May, and one of those highlights starts Wednesday morning at the Hall of Fame Invitational in Austin, Texas. This four-day mid-season meet is a good projection tool for where swimmers will be when championship season rolls around in February and March, and also gives a taste of talented national competition.
Powerhouse teams such as Texas, Stanford, USC and Harvard will be in attendance, and top times and national rankings will be on the line. Each day’s preliminaries will begin at 10 a.m., and finals for those who qualify will begin at 6 p.m. each night.
The meet will be especially sweet for Tran, who is from the Dallas area, as his parents will be traveling down to Austin to see him compete. With the way he’s been improving, Austin might just be the place where this unsung hero gets his moment in the spotlight.