Michael Watkins/ Courier Swimmer Jocelyn Jo of Pasadena City College poses for a portrait in her Lancer swim gear on Thursday, April 5, 2018.
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Jocelyn Jo is underwater. She is swimming as fast as she can, her arms positioned in a glacial-like state, pushing towards the waves of the blue, crystalline swimming pool. As each movement is made, she exhales accordingly to catch her breath and continue forward, often towards victory. 

Her searing dedication towards swimming is a reflection of her persona. In the water, her movements are sharp and quick. But when Jo isn’t swimming, she can be found on the dancefloor— a 180 degree flip to what she usually pursues as her main hobby. Explaining her role as a swimmer and dancer, she says that the tasks are “completely different.” When dancing, it pushes her  “out of her comfort zone” to try new things and pursue other activities.

“Swimming and dancing are completely different from each other,” she said. “When I swim, my feet are behind. There’s no mirrors behind you and someone has to look at your strokes. But when I dance, there’s a mirror… and I can see what I’m doing.”

As a natural-born swimmer since the age of three, being under the water has always been a daily occurrence for Jo. Most of her time is consumed by practicing for events. She swims every day for three hours, followed by weight training for an hour every Monday and Wednesday, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent performing “drylands.” A vigorous exercise for swimmers, the drylands incorporate heavy running and straining ab workouts, followed by more swimming.

“I practice for three hours every day,” Jo said. “For an hour, we would [work out]. “And then, we hop onto the pool for two more hours.”

When it comes to practice and academics, Jo said that being a student-athlete has always been an internal challenge for her.

“It’s challenging,” she said. “I like challenges because you do have to figure out a balance between swimming and school. It also requires time management, which I really like because I need to work on [managing my time].”

To stay organized and on top of her game every day, she creates a to-do list, filled with numerous tasks that range from completing her assignments to working out.

“I write down a to-do list and try to complete [my tasks] as much as possible to stay on track,” she said. “I have this big list in front of me and I’m like, ‘I have to do this. I have to get this done, to get in… and qualify to swim.’”

Before preparing for an event, she explained that each of her teammates, including herself, have different “rituals” before a swimming tournament.

“My team and I have our own ritual, so each person’s different,” she said. “We mainly listen to music, and we try to hype everyone up.”

Her music playlist depends correspondingly to her mood on the “big day.” Wearing earphones, she would listen to music in the bus. Tuning in to hip-hop artists like Eminem is one way to pump her up, while listening to pop artists like Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez is for her to relax.

“It depends on the day,” she said in a laughing manner. “Sometimes, if I’m really anxious or have bad anxiety, I would listen to violin pop or ‘The Piano Guys.’ If I want to get myself hyped up, I listen to rap… like Eminem. And if I don’t want to get distracted, I just listen to regular pop artists.”

The “200 Butterfly”

Swimming has been the greatest portion of Jo’s life. There are many challenges and memories made, she says, when explaining about her role as a swimmer.

One swim event that was memorable for her was the 200 Butterfly. The event consists of eight laps in total, where one lap is equivalent to 25 yards.

“A lot of people don’t sign up for the 200 Butterfly because it’s eight laps of torture,” Jo jokingly said. “Somehow, I survived.”

Looking for ways to improve, Jo sought for help from her friend. She said that to experience pain was “normal” and tells herself to just “continue pushing through.”

“He tells me his strategies,” Jo said. “I [followed his suggestions] and went up and swam. I did okay, but as soon as I reached [towards the end of] my fourth lap, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, my arms.’”

Her strong mentality, in addition to her spunky attitude certainly paid off. She racked off first place in events such as the 200-meters individual medley, the 100 breaststroke, and the 200 breaststroke. Despite winning multiple events and awards, she still strives to learn from her weaknesses and make them her greatest assets.

“There’s always a girl who’s way faster than me,” she said. “My goal is to try to beat her, but then I realize, ‘You know what, the goal is to… try to get a closer time to her.’”

Although there are no official roles or swimming captains in PCC’s swimming team, Jo says that from past experience, she helps out the freshmen swimmers and answers their questions whenever she can.

“But I don’t know if I’m considered the ‘mom’ of the group,” she said, pausing and then laughing. “That was me in high school.”

Then she figured out what her true role was.

“My role is just being an athlete, and being the best I can at the pool,” she said.

 

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