AOW: Jackson breezes past competition

April 17, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

There are no waves in Heather Jackson's pool.

Despite a bit of adversity, the 17-year-old Imperial High School swimming sensation has dominated her competition this season.

Proof of that comes easily. All one has to do is look at last week. Despite the fact that the Tigers' team was short-handed, Jackson earned four individual wins for Imperial. In two meets with Southwest High, Jackson won the 200-meter individual medley and the 100 backstroke in both. She also was a part of teams that took the 200 medley relay in each meet.

"I was actually really surprised with how well we did," Jackson said. "We'd missed two weeks of practice and I swam really well for not getting in as many practices as I wanted."

The missed practices were due to a problem with the Imperial Valley College pool, where the Tigers train. The lack of a pool was not the Imperial swimmers' only problem. The team was also depleted last week due to spring break.


The obstacles have been no obstruction to Jackson, who thinks she is only getting stronger as the season progresses.

"Getting back in the water (at the beginning of the season) I was very out of shape," she said. "I'm progressing slowly."

Another challenge for Jackson and the Tigers has been getting used to a new coach. Chris Fowlkes is in his first year as Imperial's swim coach and Jackson thinks he has been a big positive for the team.

"He's been great," she said of her coach, who never swam competitively. "He's been learning a lot. He's gone from not knowing what to expect to being able to point out what we're doing wrong."

Jackson has been swimming since she was 3 and doing it competitively since she was 4. It is this wealth of time in the pool that she thinks gives her the confidence to excel.

"I don't get nearly as nervous as other people," she said. "It's not that big a deal. I've been there and done that, so I can focus on what I have to do."

While Jackson enjoys all of her events, the 200 individual medley is her favorite.

"It's the most challenging," she says of the race that combines the breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle and butterfly. "You come out of the pool crawling. It makes you feel like you've done some work. You need to be a well-rounded swimmer to do it all."

Jackson's final hurdle is earning a trip to the CIF San Diego Section swim meet. It is yet another obstruction she thinks she'll easily be able to pass.

"I hope to make CIF in the 100 back," she said. "I think our 200 medley relay team can make it, too."

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