Broad Run’s Greatest: Charlie Barker


Aliza Ahmad, Author

If you want to know about one of Broad Run’s Greatest swimmers, then you’re in the right place! In Part 3 of this series, I cover varsity swimmer junior Charlie Barker. 

Barker has been swimming pretty much his entire life, starting at the young age of 4. Charlie has also tried basketball and lacrosse; however, his love and passion for swimming far outweighed other sports. “I personally enjoyed it the most, and it was what I was best at. Swimming offers a level of satisfaction that I never really got from other sports,” said Barker. He described swimming as “something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was little. I love the feel of the water and the adrenaline from racing is something no other sport really offers.”

The young swimmer usually swims the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle, and the 200-yard freestyle. Barker was thrilled with his performance this past season. “I had some great meets, and I won my first ever district and regional title. I’m just going to keep improving and working on the little details of my races, especially my technique. At the end of the day, it’s the small changes that make the biggest difference,” he said. His goal for the 2022 – 2023 season is to win states. Charlie has qualified for states all of the three years he’s been swimming for Broad Run, and he placed 6th in states during the 2020 – 2021 season, competing in the 50-yard freestyle.

One of the best things about sports is that you learn a lot of valuable lessons that can be applied in different aspects of your life. The most important lesson Barker has learned while swimming is “some days it’s not about doing [or] competing at the best level you can but instead, it’s just about showing up. Sometimes it’s most important you just show up and put in your best effort even if it’s not as good as you want to be. Your worst effort is better than not showing up at all. I think that’s super important inside and outside of the pool,” he said. “The best piece of advice I’ve gotten from my coaches is to always put in your best effort. Some days you may not [be] feeling 100% or even 70% or 80%, but if you put in the work and leave everything in the pool, you’ll still improve mentally and physically.”

If you’re looking for advice on improving yourself as an athlete, Charlie’s got you. “I believe the one most important thing in making a successful athlete is that athletes’ grit. If an athlete isn’t able to persevere through the hardest, most brutal challenges, they’ll never get better and improve at their sport,” he said.

Barker also serves as a captain for Broad Run’s swim team. He describes the environment on the team as “exciting and competitive.” He adds that “everyone who shows up to practice is there to get better and race so it’s really a lot of fun.”

While Charlie has been super successful, he has had some setbacks. “My worst swimming performance was probably at a finals session this winter where I was swimming the 50 free. I messed up my start and the whole race went super poorly.” It’s okay to make mistakes at times; it’s what makes us human. What’s important is learning from them and putting in an effort to do better next time. That’s exactly what Charlie did! “I learned from this experience that you compete best when you stay relaxed and don’t overthink your race.”

Good luck to Charlie in his next and final swim season. I look forward to seeing you holding up Broad Run’s state champion flag next year!

“I have goals that I use to push myself every day at practice and that’s what really helps me get better as a swimmer and as an overall athlete.” – Charlie Barker