Everything changed when the divers attacked

Two athletes, swimming together in harmony

Bwog’s aquatics anchor Ross Chapman sat down with two seniors from the Men’s Swimming and Diving team, David Jakl and Kevin Quinn, to hear about their upcoming season. They’re pretty cool, so go check them out in their speedos and swim caps this Friday at 6 PM at the Uris Pool for their first home meet against Penn!

Bwog: You’re already 2-0 this season, and you’re off to an exciting start. Talk a bit about your meet at Army.

Kevin: I think it was a really good showing of the talent we have on the team this year. We were pretty fortunate not to lose too many really good swimmers last year, and we got a really good freshman class, and I think that really showed at this first meet. We were very fortunate to come out with a close win, because Army was a good team. It was a good meet.

David: One of our biggest weaknesses last year was our breaststroke and our individual medley events. In the freshman class, we have Jae Park and Joseph Lozano, they’re two breaststroke freshmen, and we have a new transfer from Auburn, Forrest Davis, he’s a sophomore, so that’s something that’s really good for us.

B: What’s it like to be seniors on the team?

K: I think it’s different for us as seniors because even though we had a lot of great leaders in our time here, we saw some things that we wanted to change and some things we thought we could do better as a team, and we’ve tried to implement these changes, to bond more as a team, so it’s different being on the other side, trying to be a leader.

D: I definitely have this new feeling where I feel the need to do every little thing correctly, because everyone’s looking up to you. If you want something in the program to change, it has to come from the seniors, because that’s the example that everyone follows. So for example, this season, I haven’t missed a practice yet, whereas the last three seasons I probably missed a lot already.

B: What are some of those things you’re looking to change as seniors?

K: We wanted better practice attendance, that’s one thing. We know it’s really hard to be a student at this school without the athletics, and we understand that and Jim [Bolster, head coach] and Goose [Leal, assistant coach] understand that, but we want people to be as dedicated to the sport as they can be. We were noticing that, at meets, people weren’t being as motivated or as supportive of their teammates; we’re trying to change the environment and the atmosphere of the team.

D: We’re setting goals in general, because we’re trying to implement detail work. You always see swimmers doing laps back and forth, but what we’re trying to do is incorportate the little things. I think that’s making it more enjoyable for the team in general. At meets, everyone’s looking out for one another and seeing how we can get better as a team.

B: What’s it like to have your names and names of teammates up on record boards?

D: I think as a freshman I definitely had those goals that I wanted to beat, but as a senior, I would prefer them not be there, because now everyone’s going after me. But I think it makes it more fun, I think it’s really important in swimming to set goals. Those times up there, they should be seen as things to help you improve. If I saw someone up there with a really fast time, I would want to look at what they do to see how they got that fast, and I think that’s something that could be helpful for a lot of swimmers.

K: It gives everyone in the pool good goals to set. It’s a really great feeling when we’re at Ivies and someone on the team breaks a record, because those records are pretty fast. The 4IM record had just been set the year I came, and I was shocked to see that I got it, and it was a great feeling, I think the team was super excited. It was great to see a teammate break the record, because I was very happy for him: it’s such a big deal. It makes you feel like a part of history, and it helps foster a better team atmosphere.

B: Do you do stuff together outside of swimming?

D: I mean, I’m currently living with four other seniors on the team. We pretty much do everything together.

K: We’re a pretty close-knit team. We have a GroupMe where everyone’s involved, and everyone can just text, “Hey, lunch,” and someone will respond. We do a lot of things together.

B: What do you do personally to relieve some stress as a student-athlete?

D: This year I’m taking a class called Dance in New York City with one of my swim teammates. We go see dance performances every other week. That’s something I’ve come to really enjoy. I’ve never really gone out to the city and seen performances.

K: I take a lot of naps. And a lot of the time, if we’re not swimming, we’re talking about swimming, or with swimmers doing something. It brings us all together. It gives us an instant group of 30+ friends.

B: If you could have a lot of fans show up to one meet, what would that be?

D: I’d say it would definitely be this home opener coming up this Friday against Penn. Penn is definitely one of our biggest rivals, and having a lot of fans there really helps the environment because it gets us all pumped up. I know last year we had a good amount of people—Yale was our home opener last year—and that meet came down to the last event and we barely beat them, and I think the crowd definitely helped.

K: It’ll be one of our toughest meets, and people cheering for us gets us motivated. We always tend to better when there’s a big crowd there to cheer us on.

D: The last event is always a relay. And that’s always exciting, because you see the first leg dive in, and then maybe they’re ahead, and then the second person dives in, and maybe we’re ahead, and the third person dives in, and we’re behind, and you see that last person dive in, and it’s just about who will touch the wall first. It’s intense.

K: David brought up that Yale meet from last year. I think that relay was the most exciting race of any dual meet we had last year. David really came through with three other great guys for the win. It was probably one of the most exciting races I’ve ever seen in my life.

B: You both have ties to California. David, you come from LA, and Kevin, you went to school at Cal. What’s it like coming to New York?

D: I personally like the cold weather. Back home, I used to snowboard every winter. I think it’s cool actually having four seasons.

K: That’s funny, because I’m from Chicago, and I hate snow. It makes getting to practice so much harder. But I grew up with it all my life, so I’m used to it.

B: Is there any message you want to get out to Columbia students?

D: Definitely come support us at this Friday’s home opener against UPenn. It’ll come down to the wire.

K: Come to Penn, it’s probably going to be our most intense meet. It starts at six.

B: Which is more pressure: NCAA championships or finals week?

D: Definitely finals week. When I’m at NCAA’s, I’m there to have fun. There’s more pressure at Ivy Championships. I see NCAA’s more as an individual accomplishment. So at the NCAA’s, the pressure is pretty much off. For finals week… oh, man.

K: Definitely finals week. NCAA’s is sort of a reward for doing well at Ivies. It’s sort of a fun way to compete against the best in the country. And finals is a not fun way to compete with the smartest kids in the country.

[Note: Interview edited for brevity]

Synchronized competitive swimming via Columbia University Athletics