Eleanor Queenan ‘21
The excitement of the Regis Jesuit girls swim and dive team was at an all-time high on Friday, February 8th and Saturday, February 9th of 2019. The Raiders went into the state championship meet hopeful the endless laps, early mornings, and brutal sets would pay off. They sure did.
“When I first touched the wall, my reaction was complete shock and happiness,” said junior Jada Surrell-Norwood. Jada was among many who had a successful state meet, but the team went crazy when she won the 100 Yard Freestyle with a time of 00.50.59.
The 5A State meet took place at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center (VMAC) in Thornton, CO. Prelims lead to finals the following day. Swimming or not, the Regis Jesuit community gathered to support, as they always did. Parents, siblings, and teammates flooded the stands in red. This team truly is a family.
According to Surrell-Norwood, her favorite aspect of Regis Jesuit swimming is the team spirit and closeness of the team. She favors her freshman year of Regis Jesuit swimming because the experience was new and unexpected. She was excited to be in high school and swimming topped it off. Overall, Surrell-Norwood considers the championship meets at the end of the season her favorite time of Regis Jesuit swimming because everyone has worked so hard to get to where they are. Watching others succeed is a rewarding experience to Jada.
Surrell-Norwood is an All-American swimmer who has had endless success in the pool. She has worked her tail off to get to where she is today. Outside of the pool, Surrell-Norwood occasionally focuses on what she eats.
“ I can not eat healthy all the time because that would not be fun,” laughs Surrell-Norwood.
Surrell-Norwood also incorporates other sports such as track to not get burnt out of swimming, as it has been her passion for so long. However, to set herself up for success in the pool, Surrell-Norwood first needed to ensure she was in the right environment to focus on her swimming.
Prior to Surrell-Norwood joining Denver Swim Academy and swimming for Nick Frasersmith, head coach of both the girls and boys team at Regis Jesuit, Jada swam for Todd Schmidt on Colorado Stars. However, it was not the right fit for her. Surrell-Norwood’s relationship with Todd changed drastically when she got to high school. She was ready for a change.
“When I finally made the choice to switch to Denver Swim Academy, it was the best decision I have ever made. Since joining DSA, I have improved in all of my events. Nick is an amazing coach and wants nothing but the best for his swimmers. He takes the time to break things down and explain why we do it. Nick also explains how it will benefit us in the long run, which has helped me recently in my career,” said Surrell-Norwood.
Surrell-Norwood had the exciting opportunity to compete at Junior Nationals, a meet that took place in Austin, Texas from from December 5th to December 8th this past winter. Prior to the big meet, Jada pulled away from the Regis Jesuit girls season to taper with her club team (DSA). She then tapered again alongside the Regis Jesuit state team prior to their 5A championship meet.
Surrell-Norwood favored her taper for Junior Nationals over Regis Jesuit state. She felt it was more effective on her performance. Surrell-Norwood had a different energy in Texas, as it was her first time competing at Junior Nationals. In addition, she was sick with the flu two weeks prior to high school state. She felt weak from recovering and needed to take time away from the pool.
“In a way, Junior Nationals was better time and strength wise,” said Surrell-Norwood. However, the flu did not stop her from claiming her state title, whether she felt she was going in with full force or not.
The pool’s humidity felt heavy for those in the stands. Swimmers walked the pool deck in their parkas, fresh out of the water. Surrell-Norwood was ready to race. On the blocks, the crowd fell silent for the start. Her teammates cheered as she dominated each lap. At the sight of the final score and her improved time, the Regis Jesuit community went crazy. Happiness and excitement overflowed the Regis Jesuit team.
“Knowing I was seated second, I honestly did not think I would be able to pull it off. Anna Shaw (the top seed) is an amazing swimmer and really knows how to race. I saw her ahead of me by a lot on the last lap. At that point, I just thought to myself, ‘Ok, just give it all you have left!’” said Surrell-Norwood with excitement.
Needless to say, Jada herself is a hard-working, talented swimmer. However, the list does not end with her on the Regis Jesuit girls team. Nick Frasersmith works to make his team one of the best in the state, but the team has a special bond on their own. Waking up at 4am to train before school, team breakfast on Saturdays, all-day meets, painful mornings, early alarms, late nights, overwhelming schoolwork, all for the relationships between the girls on this team. The Bubble becomes your life for three months, but most would not have it any other way. The tight connections between this team and group of girls was seen in the uproar of Jada’s 100 Yard Freestyle victory. Swimming is not an individual sport when you have a team this supportive and strong by your side.