by Katelyn Massarelli
Qualifying for the Olympic Trials is an honor for any athlete, especially to senior Jeremy Parker, who now qualifies to go to the Summer 2016 Olympic Trials for his performance in the 50 freestyle. Parker started swimming as a sophomore at Plant High School after realizing he wasn’t meant for contact sports.
“I played lacrosse [before I started swimming] and broke my wrist,” Parker said. “Rough sports weren’t for me.”
Parker’s stepfather at the time encouraged him to try swimming. His stepfather was a swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania and would have gone to the Moscow Olympics in 1980, had the United States not boycotted following the Soviet Union’s invasion into Afghanistan.
Parker started swimming for Plant High School’s team and Greater Tampa Swim Association (GTSA). He quickly worked his way to the top with record breaking times in 200 free relay of 1:28 and the 400 relay of 3:13.
Wanting to further his swim career, Parker came to the University of Tampa where he is now in his senior year and carving new record times.
He holds records at UT in the 200 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay. Statewide, Parker holds a record with his relay team for the 200 free relay.
He achieved his qualifying time for the Olympics at the end of July this year at the Summer Beach Blast Invitational when he clocked a time of 22.87 seconds in the 50 free. UTampa has had five swimmers qualify for the Olympic Trials, but Parker will be the only one going because he is from the United States while the others are ineligible international students. Although Parker was excited to qualify for the Olympic Trials, this wasn’t just an exciting moment for him, but for his entire team.
Senior Jordan Augier from St. Lucia who swims alongside Parker, described the momentous occasion as eventful. “He texted me that day and just said ‘Dude, I got it,’” Augier said.
Both compete together on the 400 free relay and 200 medley relay. “Even though I can’t go to the Olympic Trials for the U.S, it’s still motivating to be on the same team as him because we motivate each other,” Augier said.
Augier, along with the rest of UT’s swim team, were supportive of their teammate. “My coach posted a picture of me [in my qualifying race] and the team started blowing up my phone,” Parker said.“Considering I started when I was 16 years old when most start at five, I feel like I have done really great and that is all thanks to my coaches and teams.”
Parker’s favorite memories are making the Olympic trial cut and getting second place with his relay team at National last season.
Parker’s current plan is to focus on his final year at UT and help get his team to Nationals. His goal before the Olympic trials is not only to compete for the 50 free, but also make the qualifying time for the 100 free as well.
“I am more determined than I’ve probably ever been in my whole life,” Parker said. “It’s kind of unreal when now I can almost count the days until I am almost done with swimming for the rest of my life.”
He’ll continue to compete and train with GTSA leading up to the Olympic trials in late July of next year.
To make the Olympic swim team, Parker will have to be in the top sixteen in preliminary rounds, then in semi-finals top eight, and finally the top two swimmers in finals will continue on to the Olympics.
“It’s every swimmers goal and it’s an honor to even go to the Olympic trials, but even if I don’t go to the Olympics I plan to do great and come out on top to end my career on a good note,” Parker said.