FEDERAL WAY — A short-term solution has become a long-term success for NKHS swimmer Jacklene Salwei.
When Salwei developed rheumatoid arthritis in her right ankle early this swimming season, she was not allowed to swim her usual long-distance events. Salwei, undaunted, trained with coaches Greg Braun and Marilyn Grindrod to master the short events instead.
Salwei, a sophomore, proved to be a quick study. She qualified for state in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyle.
Last Friday and Saturday she made the trip to Federal Way’s aquatic center in order to represent the Vikings. She represented them well, taking ninth place in the 50 the first day and 17th in the 100.
Her 50 time of 25.23 was a new school record, a new personal record, and proved quick enough to qualify Salwei for the second day of competition.
Vikings coach Greg Braun, who accompanied Salwei to state, was amazed by her acheivement in the 50.
“She had everything going that night,” he said. “I was watching her start, and she was the first one in the water. She hit it just right.”
Salwei’s 100 time, which was 56.21, qualified her as the first alternate for Saturday — “It was a terrific swim,” Braun said.
On Saturday, Salwei returned to compete in the 50.
This time she swam a bit slower, finishing in 25.42.
She didn’t get a chance to compete in the 100, so Salwei’s year was over; she had taken 13th place in the state for the 50 and 17th for the 100.
“I think it went really well. I did better than I expected,” said Salwei. “It was pretty tough competition this year. All the times for the 50 and the 100 were really close.”
Braun is not surprised by Salwei’s success.
“She has excellent technique,” he said, “and she’s worked on the fine points of swimming. It’s the small things that make a difference.”
Salwei’s injury forced her to work at something new, the shorter events: “We did a lot of drills where I had to hold my air in so I could get used to not breathing a lot,” she said. “There were a lot of kicking drills and pulling drills. A lot of all-out sprints.”
The difference between the shorter and longer events, Salwei said, is the difference in recovery time; that’s what makes her prefer the longer events.
“On the sprints,” she said, “there’s no room for any tiny mistake … on longer events, there’s more time to recover if you make a tiny mistake.”
So with her ankle healing, Salwei will be returning to the longer events, such as the 500, which she usually swims for NKHS, and the mile, which she swims for Bainbridge Island Swim Club.
Even with a season of swimming and several new school records under her belt, Salwei can’t wait to get back in the pool. In a few weeks she will again start swimming for her club team.
“I can’t wait,” Salwei said.