Going the Distance

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Jordan Anderson, Utah Swim and Dive team August 31, 2015 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo / Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah)

Swimmers’ bodies are typically toned for a low impact sport. When most people jump in the pool to do a few laps, however, they quickly realize that it isn’t as much of a walk in the park as they assumed it would be.

That’s something sophomore Ute swimmer Jordan Anderson is all too familiar with.

“It’s so funny watching people who don’t swim do even a 25 [yard] and just be gassed.” Anderson said.

Anderson is a swimming machine and a distance specialist for the Ute swimming team. The Granite Bay, Calif. native swims in events ranging from 200 yards to a mile and she has done 5K open water swims as well. She swims multiple strokes at long distances and is an anchor for the women’s distance team at the U.

“For me, distance was obvious,” Anderson said. “I struggle at times sprinting and getting a quick start like some of the other swimmers on the team, but my endurance level is high so distance was a natural choice for me. It’s like a sprinter trying to run a marathon or vice-versa.”

A marathon it is. Imagine running a mile. It’s hard at times, but not impossible. A runner might breathe hard by the end and their legs might feel heavy and tired. Imagine cutting your breathing down one-third, using your whole body and pushing yourself against others for the entire distance.  Then do it in 16 minutes. For Anderson, this is the norm of distance swimming.

“At the end of a mile swim, your body goes completely numb. It’s a mental race more than anything. You know you are going to be hurting and you know it’s going to be hard,” Anderson said. “No one ever goes into it saying, ‘Oh this mile will be easy.’ You have to mentally break it down and tell yourself, ‘Okay, it’s only a 500 left’ or ‘It’s only a 200.’ Otherwise you psych yourself out of it completely.”

It’s a race long enough that losing track of laps is a common enough problem that swimmers have counters on the pool deck to let them know how far they have gone.

During her high school career, Anderson said that counting her own laps would be required at times.

“Sometimes the meets would go by so fast and they wouldn’t be able to get the counter there in time,” she said with a chuckle. “A 500 is 20 laps and so you would just watch someone else’s counter, or keep track yourself and hope you remember how to do it from practice.”

Like most collegiate athletes, Anderson has her eyes set on the NCAA championships this spring, but she knows in order to make it on the national stage, it is the Pac-12 Conference Championships where she’ll have to shine.

“I’m focusing on Pac-12’s coming at the end of February and I really want to make the NCAA cut in the 400 IM,” Anderson said. “Right now I’m about a second away on that, so I’m really focusing on all the technical aspects of my stroke in order to shave that time off and working on being mentally ready for these big meets.”

While these goals may seem lofty, Anderson has the drive and determination to reach them. During the holidays, she spent every day she was at home in the pool. She worked with her club coach in California in order to stay sharp and prepared for meets against Denver and UCLA taking place while most students are still adjusting to the new semester.

b.marshall@dailyutahchronicle.com

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