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    Long-range dream: Sarasota High swimmer Colin Jacobs to compete in World Open Water Junior Championships

    By Jim Brockman,

    25 days ago

    SARASOTA – All children entertain notions of what they want to be when they grow up. Whether it is the proverbial fireman, nurse, Major League Baseball star, or world-famous astronaut, it’s a time to dream.

    The numbers decrease when it actually comes to achieving those early lofty goals. Even if the plan materializes, it can take a lifetime.

    Colin Jacobs took a shortcut by swimming really long distances to make his childhood dream come true at the ripe old age of 15.

    Top Local Athletes: Sarasota-Manatee High School Sports Awards show honors area's top athletes, teams

    Jacobs, who swims for the Sarasota Sharks when he’s not representing the Sarasota Sailors during the high school season in the fall, has earned a berth on the USA Swimming Junior National Team that will compete at the 2024 World Aquatics Open Water Junior Championships in the ancient city of Alghero, Italy, Sept. 6-8.

    Jacobs qualified for the national team by winning the 2024 U.S. Open Water Junior National Championship at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota on May 5. It took him 1:28.23 to swim 7.5 kilometers, or 4.66 miles at NBP.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2kFp1w_0tuoU3pW00

    “Ever since I started swimming, my dream was always to represent Team USA,” Jacobs said following a recent grueling morning workout at the Selby Aquatic Center. “To then get to travel overseas for a competition at a big international event is like a surreal feeling. I’m excited to be a part of the team. I am really looking forward to it.”

    Jacobs first hopped in the pool at 2 years old. He’s been there pretty much ever since. He started swimming competitively for the Sharks at 8.

    Andrew Eckhart is the head coach at Sarasota High, winners of four consecutive boys team state championships, as well as the head age group coach with the Sharks.

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    “It’s always special when someone gets to put on the red, white and blue of the USA for the first time,” Eckhart said. “It’s everybody’s dream, right? Not many people can say they have accomplished a dream like that. It’s a pretty big deal when an 8-year-old boy can want to represent the U.S. and then make it happen.”

    All Jacobs and his 11 U.S. roster teammates have to do is swim a 7.5K through the waves of the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sardinia to see who can get to the finish line first. More than 200 long-distance swimmers from 35 countries will be on hand.

    “It takes months and months to train and prepare for a race this long,” Jacobs said. “You have to build up the endurance and ability. You have to tell yourself you can survive it and be able to out-sprint everyone else on the last lap of the race.”

    Eckhart is doing everything he can to mix things up for Jacobs. Aside from being exhausting, hours and hours of swimming can be downright monotonous.

    “It’s like swimming cross-training,” Eckhart said.  “You do some different things. You see that in a sport like track, too. You do it to break up the monotony. You have to keep things fresh, so it doesn’t become a mind-numbing routine.

    “It takes a lot of time and effort. You have to pay attention to the details. We have to put in 20-plus hours per week.”

    Jacobs has competed in every event from 50 meters on up, including freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke. But there is something about swimming long distances.

    “The 7.5K in the open water is just hours of straight swimming,” Jacobs said. “It’s constant. It’s just a sense of pure distance all the time.

    “I really don’t know why. I’ve just always liked the long-distance sets and grinding out the yards.”

    Jacobs appreciates the fact that he has had the opportunity to compete for teams like Sarasota High and the Sharks, who have been cranking out world-class swimmers since 1961.

    “It’s incredible,” Jacobs said. “It’s an honor to be able to step into these roles. Right now I’m just trying to fill those shoes and continue doing my part to fulfill the legacy for both teams.”

    When Jacobs returns from Italy, he will jump into the high school season, where the longest race he can enter is a mere 500 meters. He placed fourth in that event as a freshman at the Class 4A state meet in a time of 4:29.58 last fall.

    “I wish we could do longer races for high school,” he said. “For me, the 500 is a little bit like a sprint. I like competing for the team. But I wish they had something around a mile.”

    This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Long-range dream: Sarasota High swimmer Colin Jacobs to compete in World Open Water Junior Championships

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