Jake vs. WO Swimming


Jake Holstege

Sploosh. The warm air contradicted the freezing cold water as I dove in for my trial run. 5 minutes prior, I met up with Jr. Caroline Sisson WO swimmer. She put on her swim cap and goggles confidently and nonchalantly while I stood nervously on the starting block. Before racing Sisson, she had me perform a trial run to see my skills.

For this edition of the “Jake vs. WO Challenge,” I took my lack of talent to the pool. The event was simple, I would first do a trial run and then I would face Sisson in a 50 freestyle race. This means I would go down and back one time performing  the most common swimming style that almost everyone knows how to do.  Before I faced Sisson though, I would gather advice from the team who was watching the event.

My trial run went much better than expected, and the team was supportive and showed a smidge of shock that I did well. They told me I swerved from side to side while I swam. Also, when I jumped off the starting block my dive was too deep and the transition between swimming and the dolphin kick was slow and unathletic. Despite all of these major errors, my trial run was still better than my actual race. For my trial run I would only go down to the end of the pool, but for the actual race, I would go down and back.

After the trial run, I hopped out of the pool and slowly walked towards the swimmers deeply out of breath, realizing just how good of shape the swimmers are really in. The team gathered around me chuckling. Out of breath, I asked the team what I could do to become a swimmer when it came time to race Caroline. The team taught me a better stance for  when I stood on the starting block. “Make sure you do dolphin kicks when you start,” Sisson said. The most important aspect was that they gave me some goggles. Another piece of advice I received was to keep my head down looking at the pool floor, except when I was quickly getting a breath during strokes. It was not quite advice but the goggles allowed me to see where I was going so that I didn’t  swerve throughout the lane.

Right before the race I went around asking members of the swim team how I would do. Soph. Brandon Walton, the cameraman, believed I would lose by a large margin. “I think that you’ll do pretty well because you grew up in Holland, Michigan.”  Soph. Kacey Westenbroek also thought I would lose very badly. I also believed that I would lose, just like Westenbroek and the others.

Then came the moment we had all been waiting for, the race. We both took our stances on the starting block and made last second changes to our goggles and swim suits. “Get ready,” Soph. Ayisha Afrik said, “Go.”  Sisson dove in with me trailing right behind her. Sadly, I jumped a little later than her giving her a bigger head start. Then I fell even more behind her when my suit starting slipping down so I had to slow down and adjust my suit.  During my race, the obstacle that hurt me the most was how I forgot to breathe while swimming on my way down.  When I absolutely had to breathe, I took such a big breath that I slowed way down.  On my way back everything went better, but I was so tired that I was unable to keep the “fast” pace (which really wasn’t fast at all compared to Sisson).

While I was struggling to finish, Sisson slowed way down and went into a back stroke.  This was her way of bragging.  In total I finished in 39 seconds.  This is about 14 seconds slower than Sissons average time.  After I finished, I struggled to get out of the pool because of my exhaustion.  I have so much more respect for swimmers and the endurance they have to be able to excel in their sport.  Swimming like the rest of my sports was a complete failure, but hopefully my next sport will be more of a success.

Make sure to check out my race against Sisson on youtube.com.