By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
The story for the past year has been the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sports is no exception. Many events of all sorts have either been postponed or canceled. Athletes have had to make adjustments with how they do practice.
Jenks senior swimmers Jazz Widney and Austin Sung recently talked about what it’s been like going through the protocols, their likes for the sport and plans to repeat as state champions.
Both swimmers admit that going through procedures has been hard, yet the team has been able to overcome.
“There have definitely been some challenges with training and keeping the motivation has been hard for me personally, so that’s been rough,” Widney said. “But, I’d say, overall, I had two championship meets in December, both went relatively well. I got a couple of best times. So, I’m just waiting to see what we can do in our (postseason) meets.”
Both the Trojan boys and girls are scheduled to compete in regionals at the Jenks Aquatic Center. The state meet will be Feb. 19-20 at the same site.
“We have to keep our distance,” Sung said. “But at the same time, we want to race each other. I think we’ve been handling it pretty well, but at the same time, a lot of us are having to give in to quarantine. We’ve had a lot of people out for several weeks, which really harms the season. Other than that, I think it’s going really well.
“It (social distancing) was weird at first, but I think everyone is used to it now,” Sung said.
“The team has been conducting workouts by having different groups in the pool and others doing conditioning exercises.”
Both athletes have their reasons when it comes to liking swimming.
Widney likes being in the water.
“I always felt like I had this special feel in the water,” he said. “I can always show up to the pool and turn my mind off if I have something bothering me. I can go to the pool and just relax and let go of everything and train.”
For Sung, it’s the team over the past four years.
“Just getting to know everyone has been special. That is where most of our best friends come from,” he said.
The lessons of swimming, they believe, helps out in life.
“You have to learn a lot about camaraderie and your relationships with people and that can go outside of the pool,” Widney said. “Work ethic is a big one. I honestly think swimmers are probably one of the hardest working athletes, and so they develop this huge work ethic that carries over outside of the sport, as well as just leadership roles. Being a leader on the team can really help transfer into a career. So there is a lot of stuff you can take out of swimming outside of it, and that supplies to other sports.”
“I definitely say swimming has changed my life a lot,” Sung said. “It has become more of a lifestyle for me. I used to sleep til’ 11 or noon, but with double practice, you’re forced to sleep on time, wake up on time, and be a student-athlete. You can’t cram your homework at the last second. It also teaches you a lot of time management, which I think is really important.”
When the Trojans won state last year, the COVID-19 lockdowns had yet to hit. Both Sung and Widney were grateful to have gotten their championship meet in. But they were saddened for the Jenks boys basketball team, who made state and the tournament got canceled.
The guys are confident that they and the Trojan girls will be enjoying another state tournament this year.
“I think we’re looking good for the double (a sweep by both the boys and girls),” Sung said. “Hopefully, if state doesn’t get canceled.
“Even though we’re going through a pandemic and it’s really hard, I still think we have a really good chance of pulling off what we did last year, getting the double win at state,” Widney said. “Everyone is still staying positive, we’re still working hard every day and it feels like the same attitude as last year, so I don’t think anything has really changed.”
Both swimmers are committed to swim in college. Wideny is headed for Alfred State College in Alfred, N.Y. and Sung is bound for Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.