An athlete committing to a D1 college is a big deal.
In the fall, Jacki Schoening, a Leesville senior, committed to Towson University, a school of approximately 19,000 undergraduates in Baltimore, Maryland. Towson has a strong swim and dive program and is on an upward trend in the NCAA rankings.
“I chose Towson because of how welcoming everyone on the team was and how their program is run. Their campus is clean and beautiful, and I cannot wait to spend the next four years there. The team is like a family and a very close group of people that I cannot wait to be a part of,” said Schoening.
The Towson women’s swim and dive team has won three consecutive conference titles, competing in the Colonial Athletic Association. However, this comes at a cost. As the older swimmers who won these championships phase out of the program, new younger swimmers are faced with the proposition of keeping the winning streak alive.
Schoening will play an important role on the team, starting her first year. She fills an important role, filling a gap left on the team by a graduating senior. Despite being younger than most of the team, Schoening will be in the top five in both the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke.
“I’m really excited to play a major role on the team. It’s exciting to know that I can immediately begin training with people who will be able to push me to become faster.” said Schoening. Towson’s top breaststrokers are only seconds faster than her.
Swimming has been a lifelong passion for Schoening. She began swimming for her current year-round team, the Marlins of Raleigh, when she was only nine years old. Over the last eight years, she has improved to become a junior-national level swimmer.
“My serious training takes place on my year-round team. That’s where my close friends are, my true teammates who have worked through practices with me for years,” said Schoening. “It’s hard; it’s really, really difficult, but I know it will help me improve for the future, especially college.”
Next, she talked about how that love for swimming intersected with Leesville.
Schoening began leading the Leesville swim and dive team her freshman year. Despite being one of the youngest on the team, her ability as a strong breaststroker elevated her to the top heats and relays.
“I loved swimming for Leesville. There’s a great community on the team and spending time with those people away from the pool was great also,” said Schoening.
Schoening has been an important part of the team all four years at Leesville. She has led the team to a Cap-8 conference victory every year–the first four-peat in Leesville history. Additionally, she has led the team, as a captain, to multiple top-ten finishes at States and a fourth-place finish at States her senior year.
“Swimming is a great outlet for me,” said Schoening, describing why she swims. She spoke about how working out at practice can help her relax and destress.
Schoening is currently a fourth-quarter senior who has committed to college with strong grades, senior exemptions, and an already busy schedule. Essentially, she is the perfect candidate for senioritis.
But as the end of the school year approaches, many seniors fall prey to the dangerous affliction that is senioritis. When your future college is chosen, grades aren’t a huge issue, and you won’t see the majority of your friends the next year–what is more important, studying for a test or hanging out with friends? This leads to a drop in work effort, attendance, and studying effort–and for committed athletes, a drop in effort in practice. After all, you’ve already reached the end goal of getting paid to swim, so why continue working as hard?
For Schoening, however, her commitment to college serves as an inspiration rather than a cause for slacking.
“Working against senioritis is hard, I’ll be honest about that. But for me, it’s different,” said Schoening. She uses her college and future as leverage to keep trying hard and working in every aspect of her life.
In swimming, this comes through as attending every practice, leading to over twenty hours per week of workouts. This is in addition to weights and dryland exercises, all designed to make her a better, stronger swimmer.
“I don’t see a point in stopping now. I want to improve and get better now. so I can be a leader on the Towson team my freshman year. I’m continuing to work, so I can hopefully place at conference and beyond,” said Schoening.
Her effort now, and this summer during the long-course season, will work to put her above the other student-athletes at Towson. In college swimming, many seasons end after the NCAA Championships in mid-March, providing college swimmers with a large break while high school swimmers continue training.
In school, her combat against senioritis is very similar. Schoening is taking normal senior classes, like Civics, but also AP Biology and AP Latin. These are two very challenging classes that she did not necessarily have to take; however, she is seeking to further educate herself before college.
“I want to go into pre-med, so taking AP Biology was a good choice. I think it’ll help me my first few years. AP Latin is really hard, but a lot of pre-med majors also minor in Classics, so I’m thinking I’ll do that, especially since it makes for a stronger application to medical school,” said Schoening.
Schoening serves as a great example of a fourth-quarter senior. She is taking difficult classes, working hard in her sport, and excelling in both. Undoubtedly, she is preparing herself extremely well to be a freshman in college.