Keep On Swimming
● By Laura Shaver
By: Laura Shaver Photo Courtesy Of: Jacob Huerta
It was a neighborhood pool that beckoned Jacob Huerta every day the summer he was five years old. His playful immersion into the water soon led to a year-round sport for the now 21-year-old college swimmer for the University of Texas in Austin.
Competitive swimming has been part of Huerta’s life for well over a decade. He also swam for Carroll High School, and while there, he attended the Olympic trials for the first time in 2016.
Now he’s gearing up for the trials once more. In June 2020, Huerta will travel to Omaha, Nebraska, with quite a few other members of the UT swim team, to compete in the 100-meter fly and the 100- and 200-meter freestyle. The Olympic trials will welcome 150 of the nation’s best swimmers in each category.
“The trials are huge; there is a lot of pressure on this meet,” says Huerta. “It’s super competitive, friendships are put aside, and nerves are at an all-time high.”
An invitation to the trials is initiated by a time standard that a competitive swimmer must meet. Huerta’s time has improved in the 100-fly since his first invitation, and he has moved up in the national rankings. Only the top two swimmers in each race are awarded a spot on the United States Olympic swim team.
“I look forward to it,” he says, noting that the 2020 trials might serve as his swan song in swimming.
But the ongoing preparation for the highly anticipated event continues daily. Huerta is training in the pool at UT twice a day, three days a week, and to free swim every afternoon. He is found in the weight room three times a week, and twice a week he engages in “dry land” exercises: high- endurance cardio training, such as rope climbing and interval exercises.
With the university’s cafeteria open and available, Huerta has daily access to a wide variety of healthy foods and plenty of carbohydrates to keep his body fueled.
His family – mom, dad, and a younger brother – have been the backbone of his support system. His brother is a runner and the more “competitive sibling,” Huerta said. “He’s got me on land, but he could never take me in the water.”
“Corpus Christi has been super supportive of my swimming, as well, once I became a bit more public during my senior year in high school. I’ve received lots of support from people I have never met,” he says.
Huerta doesn’t expect to make the 2020 Olympic team. “That would just be wild,” he smiles, “a little crazy.” But his plans are certainly not contingent on a coveted spot on the team. He is preparing to graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in history, and plans to pursue a master’s degree and a career in healthcare administration.
“Swimming has been super helpful in teaching me time management throughout my schooling, and it has taught me self-discipline, keeping me focused on my goals as I move into the real world,” he says. “I might not swim for a few years after the trials. I will always love it, but I would like a bit of a break to try something new.”
Whatever Huerta finds to try, that competitive streak that has driven him for so long will keep him active and engaged in life-long fitness, no doubt.