John Jagger wasted little time racking up qualifying times for the 2022 Class 4A boys swimming and diving competition.
Just over a month into the season, the Pueblo County high schooler has already qualified for the state meet in eight events – five individual and three relay.
Jagger, who has qualified four times for state, qualified in the 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 500m freestyle. He has also competed on state qualifying relay teams in the 200m medley, 200m freestyle, and 400m freestyle.
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Learn by experience
Jagger has been a staple for the Hornets at the State Meet throughout his career, appearing in four events each time. In state, he swam the 200m and 500m freestyle events and also swam on two relay teams. He finished 16th in the 500m and 18th in the 200m last season.
Jagger has a unique approach to qualifying and winning or even finishing in the top 10 in state.
“I have goals that I like to achieve when I swim,” Jagger said. “This year I’m trying to get under 5 minutes in the 500m and under 1:50 in the 200m. Going under those goals is something I thought was impossible and now I’m on the verge of achieving it .
“These personal goals motivate me. The ranking is kind of a side effect that I like, but my main goal is to do my best, to get my records, to improve and to be the fastest possible.”
Pueblo County head coach Ken Gornick knows Jagger has a different approach to swimming than many others who compete in the pool.
“He thinks about his races ahead of time,” Gornick said. “He tells me what he wants to do every race. He’s ready to watch something and see how it works out for him.”
Attack other events
Jagger attends events outside of his specialties for different reasons.
“I think I’m doing other events to see if I can do them,” he said. “I still do the 500 and 200. Now that I’m a senior and have qualified in almost every event I’ve done, I can think of doing several (events) other than the 200 and 500 at state. But that’s highly unlikely.”
Gornick admits that Jagger is a strong distance swimmer but has other talents as well.
“He’s a really good long distance swimmer,” Gornick said. “He’s able to put a plan in place and stick to it. As it goes further and further, you have to work harder to keep that time going.
“He’s a very talented swimmer. He prefers distance over sprint events. As we get closer to state, he’ll be doing more distance training.”
Take advantage of the link on the relays
Taking part in relays has been a common practice for Jagger throughout his career. He says it’s a chance for him to bond with his teammates.
“(Relays) are fun, great fun, everyone puts their all into it, gets stronger and does their best,” he said. “It’s just a fun experience that motivates you to swim faster.
“Not only are you swimming for your team, but you are swimming for the people swimming before and after you. There is camaraderie and you don’t want to let your teammates down.”
Sibling rivalry from the start
Jagger has been swimming most of his life. He started jumping in the pool to follow his sister, who is one of the top swimmers on the Pueblo County women’s team.
He said he participated in the Boy Scouts at the time and found it not to his liking. So when his dad suggested he join his sister in trying swimming, he decided to give it a shot.
“I try and it’s not my thing, but I still do it and my sister is faster than me,” Jagger said. “That’s where I got the motivation to swim.
“My sister was once faster than me. I admired her because of her speed, but I never told her.
“I always wanted to be faster because of my competitive nature. It’s funny, but sometimes that’s the way it is.”
A future in swimming?
Jagger says he will continue to swim in college, but not at the same level of competition.
He plans to attend the Colorado School of Mines in Golden to pursue a degree in computer science. In addition, he will swim in the club team.
“After this year, I want to stay fit for a good part of my life,” he said. “I plan to do club swimming in college. I see swimming as a very valuable thing to do if you have the time and want to get in shape. That’s why I’m going to keep swimming, I love that.”
Jagger admits that swimming will continue to be an integral part of his life.
“Swimming is my passion,” Jagger said. “In my spare time, I make a few videos, edit them, things like that.”
Jagger has a strong philosophy of swimming and life.
“It’s about the time you put into it, the motivation you have with it, and the people you work with,” he said.
Chieftain senior sportswriter Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeffletofsky