Brandeis Inside Out: Andrew Baker '18

Swimming competitively despite a rare muscular condition has helped this athlete go the distance and inspire others.


Andrew Baker '18

Brandeis Judges swimmer Andrew Baker ’18 is making waves in and out of the pool.

The Wilmington, Massachusetts native, a double major in Global Studies and Russian, with a minor in Health: Science, Society and Policy, competes for the Judges despite being diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder.

Baker, who won last year’s Department of Athletics Morrie Stein '58 Award of Valor, is an inspiration to others for the way he represents the Judges and conditions himself as a swimmer.

“I always wanted to participate in team sports as a kid, but it just wasn't a good fit," Baker said. "As my muscles started to weaken, it was suggested I try swimming as a form of physical therapy."

But a swimming coach denied Baker a spot on a local team, saying he would be unable to keep up at practice. Baker remained determined and eventually competed for his high school squad before winning a spot at Brandeis, where he now competes in most distance freestyle races and some backstroke events.

"Never did I imagine that I would be able to be part of a college swim team until I met coach Mike Kotch," said Baker, who considered accessibility a top factor in his college choice.

Kotch says Baker is a valuable member of the Judges team, and expects the sophomore swimmer to meet the same challenges as his teammates: work hard to improve times, stay motivated against All-American caliber competition and, most of all, enjoy the time in the pool.

"Andrew's character is something we needed on our team. The timing was perfect for him to come into our lives," said Kotch, now in his fourth year leading the Judges. "His work ethic is terrific. He's never missed a practice.

"I tell every kid who wants to swim here, 'If you want to be on the swim team, you need to do what the swim team does.' And Andrew has done all of that, with his head and his heart in unison. And that's exactly what we are trying to achieve with our program."

Baker’s story doesn’t end in the swimming pool. For the past two years, he and his teammates have volunteered at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Muscle Team’s Gala in downtown Boston, an event that raises funds to send children with the condition to summer camp.

In the future, Baker wants to use his personal experience as well as what he’s learned at Brandeis to work in the field of disability rights on a global level, either by working in the government or for an international agency.

Baker’s time at Brandeis — both in and out of the pool — shows that he’s got more than enough strength to make a difference.

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