One of the area’s most historic youth swimming clubs, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA’s JETS Swim Team is a year-round developmental competitive swimming program that offers instruction and training for swimmers, ages five and up.
The program provides a goal-oriented environment where swimmers of all ages can learn the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship while developing competitive swimming skills.
This summer, JETS swimmer Alexa Barajas broke the second oldest record in the program’s 9-10 year old division when she posted a time of 1:22.20 in the 100 meter fly at the Illinois Age Group State Championships. The record had stood since 1980 and marked Alexa’s seventh individual JETS record (she posted six in the eight year-old division) to go along with a place on a record-breaking 200 medley relay team two years ago.
“Alexa has all the great qualities of a swimmer in that she is not just a hard worker and competitive, but she also gets along well with people,” Director of Competitive Aquatics Ashleigh Thomas said. “Those are really good characteristics of somebody who is going to be successful. She really thrives on competition with her peers and sharing the victories. You’re not going to be successful as a lone wolf.”
This record-setting swim put a fitting cap on a summer of hard work for Alexa.
“I was really happy with my performances. It was fun,” Alexa said. “I like my surroundings. I have very nice friends and the coaches are very supportive. They always give some good critiques. They tell me to always work hard so I try to work as hard as possible, even when I’m down.”
Alexa said the key to her success is her pre-race stretch routine where she likes to size up the competition. While she doesn’t focus on breaking a record in every swim, she said having prior success motivates her to get better.
“I just think ‘I’ve done this before so I can do it again’,” she said.
Alexa turned 11 after the state championships and will start the fall season swimming in the next age division. Coach Thomas has no doubts that Alexa is ready for the next phase of training in her swimming career.
“Alexa has great stroke technique which is why a lot of young swimmers attain the speed that they do. As a more mature swimmer, and we’ve had this discussion with her, she has to look at refining her races and turning them into mature races. We’re talking about race strategy. She’s getting there very quickly, which is good,” Thomas said.
And if more records fall along the way, all the better.
“It’s a little bit more than just a metric because there is an emotional component to breaking a record. You’re breaking somebody else’s record. For us as a team, it shows the progression of the program. You can see that this is a program that is moving forward and attracting kids that make the team better,” Thomas said.
JETS swimmers come not only from Joliet but surrounding communities like Plainfield, New Lenox, Morris and Ottawa. In addition to opportunities to swim competitively, team members have the chance to gain confidence and leadership abilities while making lifelong friendships.
Young swimmers looking to learn more about the JETS are welcome and encouraged to attend the team’s upcoming fall swim clinics.
September 3-September 6
C.W. Avery Family YMCA
7-8 p.m. (Register here)
Galowich Family YMCA
7-8 p.m. (Register here)
September 9-September 12
Morris Community H.S. Pool
5:30-6:30 p.m. (Register here)
For additional information about the JETS, please visit the JETS website https://www.teamunify.com/Home.jsp?team=iljyjst or contact Coach Thomas at (815) 267-8600, ext. 227 or via email at [email protected]