Swim teams ready for playoff challenge
Right now, it’s difficult to see but to start the year, Jenks swim wasn’t in a good place. The boys and girls teams we know now having not lost a race and poised for a deep run in the postseason didn’t always look this synchronized.
“There was a time during the beginning of the season that we weren’t a team,” coach Diego Henao said. “I think that’s with every team. I think it takes time to adapt, to adjust and then slowly we just got it together.”
Though they didn’t start out as a tight-knit group, the swimmers worked their way to get where they are now.
The Trojan and Lady Trojan swimmers seem to have the perfect balance of hard work, competitiveness, and camaraderie necessary for athletic success. Even when they’re not in the water the swim team is still inseparable.
“What they do out of the pool like going to the movies, going to someone’s house, that is a bonding that becomes why they want to train better,” Henao said. “That is because of our booster club. They are really involved in the program. I’ve got to thank them for that. It makes a lot of things easier for me because of that.”
Having a strong bond outside the pool only helps their performance in the water.
The boys and girls teams have taken first place in each meet they’ve participated in and they’re winning them by a mile.
In the Frontier Valley Conference meet, the girls took first place with 493 points, 190 more than second place finisher Bixby which had 303 points. In the same meet, the boys scored 560.5, the second-place finisher was Bartlesville with 378.5 points.
At the Jenks Invitational, the most recent meet, the story was much the same. The Lady Trojans out-gained Bixby 502.5 to 351 and the boys ran away with their group by scoring 506 points over second place Bishop Kelley which scored 342.
The same song was sung in nearly every meet this season. The meets haven’t exactly been close.
That fierce competitive drive that comes out in both teams each meet doesn’t begin and end there, it’s the same at practice.
“We have so many great talents and they’re so great about, they know what they want,” Henao said. “When you put them together, when they’re swimming together, no one wants to be second. When they’re training it’s like the perfect job. It’s like, how do I slow them down? I can’t. They just want to go fast.”
Despite the splashing success Jenks has enjoyed this far, they don’t want to get ahead of themselves.
“I tell them all the time; I don’t want to assume anything,” Henao said. “I don’t want them to lower their guard. They need to maintain their focus. They need to know, if they do their best performance individually, we’re going to do great and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Getting the best out of the individuals shouldn’t be hard with a focused 2019-20 team.
Henao was met with difficulty deciding who his top swimmers were, he didn’t want to leave anyone out. He mentioned a few.
For the boys: Andrew Truong, Austin Bick, Grant Stuckey, Jazz Widney, Austin Sung “he’s a beast. I call him ‘the train.’”
The Girls: Laney Fenton, Jasmine Rau, Gabby Vargus. “We have a really good class on the junior side.”
And Henao has found ways to keep the fire lit under his team.
“There was a time three years ago they lost by a point or two and I remind them about that,” he said. “Or if we don’t go by points, there was a time they lost a relay by .001 of a second. I remind them of that. ‘Remember that time you lost the relay by .001 of a second? Let’s not make that happen again.’ I’ve got to keep them motivated in knowing that just losing that one race is going to affect you.”
The postseason begins Friday with east regionals held at the Jenks Aquatic Center. Bixby girls have been right under Jenks’ nose all season and Henao mentioned them as a team to watch for going into regionals.
Henao doesn’t want his team getting ahead of themselves, however, his goals remain lofty.
“My goals are, great performance,” he said. “I want to see every kid drop time. At the same time, I want to see the team break some records. Some records that have been established a long time ago, I’d like to see them be broken now. It’s going to be a tough challenge; I think the kids are excited about it.”