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Swimmer JT Ewing: going for gold

Junior JT Ewing qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials in the 200 backstroke at the TYR Pro Swim Series on Jan. 17, in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo from Gonzaga Swimming Flickr)
By Cole Peverall—

As tedious as it sounds to stare at a single black line for countless hours a week, it is a small part of the life that many swimmers face across the country as they work towards a similar goal—reaching the Olympic Trials. For junior J.T. Ewing that goal was reached on Jan. 17 at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Richmond, Virginia.

“It shows a lot of hard work paying off. It was something I really wanted to make, and it’s almost more fuel to the fire and made me want to make the next cut even more and get even better,” Ewing said.

Ewing has spent much of his life in the pool beginning at age two when his parents signed him up for water safety classes. At age four, he then began swimming with his local pool, Tuckahoe who competes in the Northern Virginia Swimming League. At the age of six, after competing with his local pool and participating in clinics over the winter, he started swimming year round with The Fish, a local club team participating in local and national level meets.

JT (second from left) with Ollie Bernasek, Ryan Catron and Matthew Pottker at the 2020 WMPSSDL Championship meet. (Photo from Gonzaga Swimming Flickr)

From the age of six, Ewing spent two to three days a week practicing and then moved to four days a week at the age of eight until he was 11. Ewing is now in the pool six days a week with two dryland lifts included. While Ewing has kept a rigorous swim schedule since age six and never missed more than two weeks of practice at a time, he still managed to participate in other activities.

“I did a lot of sports as a kid like taekwondo, baseball, basketball. I liked all of them and I would play them in their season but I always kept swimming,” Ewing said.

Ewing noted that he did think about possibly playing basketball in high school as well as swim, but he realized it would not be possible with his rigorous swim schedule.

As for the making Olympic Trials, the goal began in the summer of 2019 before Ewing’s sophomore year.

“At the Futures Meet, I dropped about four seconds in the 200 [meter] backstroke, and I was around two seconds off from the cut. It was like ‘oh shoot,’ and my coach and I talked about it, and our goal for the next year was to make the cut,” Ewing said.

Heading into 2020, making the trials cut was on Ewing’s mind, but with the pandemic in March, he and so many other athletes had to put a pause on training. Ewing went roughly four and a half months without having typical training. Ewing instead practiced only a few times a week for a short period of time and without his coaches.

Although Ewing faced many challenges the past year, most notably losing a large chunk of training, he was fortunate enough to make the trials cut and will compete in Omaha, Nebraska this upcoming summer.

Currently Ewing only has the time for the first wave of trials and will be working towards the second wave cut of two minutes point 81 seconds. Qualification for the second wave ends May 30. Olympic Trials will take place over two weeks with the first wave the week of June 4-7, and the second wave the week of June 13-20.

“My parents, especially my mom, not only takes me to practices and meets but has helped push me. Also, my coach has helped me become the person and swimmer I am today. They both mean a lot to me, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” Ewing stated.

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