By Ian Hugo – Staff Reporter
(Photo courtesy of ReplayIt.com)
Imagine being a freshman in high school and already holding a school record.Jonathan Law’s Jake Gwirtz knows the feeling. Gwirtz recently broke the school record for 100 meter backstroke with a time of 1:01.13, a record that has stood since 1980.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” said Gwirtz. “I should’ve broken [the record] at the beginning of the season. It didn’t affect my training, it was just annoying.”
Gwirtz, a quiet, humble guy, is all but quiet in the pool. At SCC Finals he finished 14th in the 100 meter backstroke with a time of 1:02.26, at State Trials a time of 1:01.13 and a finish of 14th which broke the school record, and a time of 1:01.78 and a finish of 15th for his second best time in the event at State Finals.
“Jake is a great swimmer with a lot of passion for the sport and it’s great coaching someone who always wants to make every swim his best,” said head coach Asli Kizavul. “I definitely knew Jake was going to break the record, it was just a matter of when. He really wanted to do it before the season ended and he took all of our advice and was able to do it.”
Gwirtz has been a swimmer for seven years, since he was in second grade.
“I started swimming because of my parents,” said Gwirtz. “I wasn’t immediately good at it and I kind of liked it, but I continued to train to get to where I am today.”
Before moving to Milford in seventh grade, Gwirtz lived in West Virginia. As a swimmer, Gwirtz travelled to different parts of West Virginia in order to compete in various swim meets.
After moving to Milford, Gwirtz began to swim for the Hamden Hall Aquatic Club where he swims year-round, minus the school swim season.
Gwirtz came into the season with a goal to set a school record, one which he accomplished during states. Gwirtz broke the school record, set by Don Duncan in 1980, at state trials with a time of 1:01.13, and at state finals broke the previous school record again, however he did not break the time he previously set at trials.
Gwirtz was cool, calm, and collected, saying he wasn’t nervous about the fact he was at states nor was he nervous before his heat.
“Before the race I was thinking, ‘I’m hungry.’ During it I was wondering, ‘What am I going to eat?’ Afterwards my thoughts were, ‘Wish I could be eating right now.’”
Gwirtz said he became aware of his feat when he looked at the board after his heat. According to Gwirtz, his initial reaction upon seeing his time was “Finally.”
“Having Jake in my lane during practice truly benefitted me,” said sophomore Kevin Keramis, Gwirtz’ lane mate in lane 6. “His fast-paced swimming really challenged me to try to swim as fast as him.”
Swimming isn’t Gwirtz’s only talent. He also has a pretty sharp wit that no one, not even his coaches, are safe from.
“Not only is he a fast swimmer, but he also has a lovable sense of sarcasm,” said Keramis. “That [wit] always kept the coaches on their toes and added some humor to the bleak repetition of swimming laps.”
Kizavul is optimistic about what next season has in store for Gwirtz and the boys’ swim team.
“We’re looking forward to him breaking his own record again as well as some of the other ones that haven’t been broken in years and making it to States again,” said Kizavul. “My goals for the team next year are to continue the progress we’ve made so far, continue to get personal bests every meet, and hopefully get another win under our belt!”
Gwirtz says his goal for next season is to set some more records and plans to train in the offseason through long course swimming (In long course, one lap is 50 meters as opposed to short course which is 25 meters).
Although it seems far away, Gwirtz has his sights set on the long term and hopes to be able to swim in college. With the start he’s off to in high school this plan seems more than realistic.
Aside from his feats in the pool, Gwirtz is just like any other kid. When asked about what he does in his spare time, Gwirtz replied, “Sleep,” and said he plans to run cross country his sophomore year in addition to swimming.
When asked about his attitude towards swimming, Gwirtz said, “Sounds like work. That sums it up.”
People wouldn’t think so from watching him.