Barely buoyant to leader: Jacobs' work pays off

January 15, 1995|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

City coach Eric Littlefield sometimes chokes up when he talks about senior Jennifer Jacobs.

Not because she is such a magnificent swimmer, because she isn't, but swimming isn't everything that Jenny Jacobs is all about.

This is what she is about:

Salutatorian of the senior class of 216 . . . Grade-point average of 4.0 and SAT score of 1190 . . . National Honor Society . . . Senior editor of the yearbook . . . Secretary of the Student Government Association . . . Actress with the Alameda Players . . . President of youth group, Sunday school teacher and member of senior choir at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church . . . Tutors other students several times a week . . . Babysitter supreme for her younger brothers and sisters.

Oh, yes, and Jacobs is a co-captain and freestyler on City's coed swimming team.

"How she accomplishes so much in 24 hours is beyond me," Littlefield said.

"She must only sleep two hours. Jenny is the perfect coaching story. She came from nowhere as a swimmer, worked hard and now she's getting rewards. It doesn't get any better than that."

When Jacobs came out for swimming as a freshman under then first-year coach Littlefield, she could barely do the doggie paddle and couldn't make one 25-yard lap without occasionally stopping and grabbing the side of the pool to rest. She was afraid of deep water and diving off the block was unthinkable.

"She said if I wouldn't cut her, she'd stick it out," Littlefield said.

Said Jacobs: "I kept coming to practice because it was a challenge. I had never tried swimming and it was difficult. It was an obstacle I wanted to overcome."

By the end of her freshman year, Jacobs could swim two laps freestyle without stopping and competed in a few meets. As a sophomore, she continued to improve and learned to dive off the block.

"Eric used to call me Jenny 'Not From The Block' Jacobs," said Jacobs, who before that started a race in the water. "I became very tense, because I was afraid of bellyflopping."

As a junior last season, she was third in the 100 freestyle in the District 9 Championships, was named the team's unsung hero and co-captain for this year.

"I've come a long way," Jacobs said. "From not being able to swim at all to a third in the 100 freestyle, unsung hero and co-captain makes me proud. It's been a slow progression, overcoming fear, hurdling an obstacle and doing something I never thought I could do."

The second oldest of seven children, Jacobs is probably bound for Goucher, Gettysburg, Bucknell, College of Notre Dame or Western Maryland on a scholarship. It will be based on academics and need more than on swimming and her other sports, soccer and lacrosse.

"The first swimmer I've been able to help get a scholarship was Sean Whitmore, who's a freshman at Florida A&M," Littlefield said. "A half-scholarship, actually, based on academics and need as well as athletics."

Jacobs will pursue a dual major of child psychology and elementary education, with a possible minor in special ed, with ,, an eye toward becoming an elementary school teacher.

"I come from a large family and I'm around kids a lot," Jacobs said. "I want to give something back to the community by teaching. That seems to be the career for me."

Clearly, Jacobs has it all mapped out.

"The busier you are, the less trouble you get in," Littlefield said. "Jennifer exemplifies that."

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