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Teammates agree: swimming is a way of life

Jane Holmes '18 started swimming competitively in eighth grade, and she now competes on Whitworth's swim team. Her recently graduated teammate, Wes Walton '16 has been swimming competitively since he was six. The pair credits their moms with developing their love of the sport.

"My mom always had me in the water," Walton says. "I've never known a time when I wasn't comfortable in or around water."

"I've always loved the water," Holmes says. "My mom used to put me on the rec team so I could swim my heart out every day."

At Whitworth, Holmes and Walton swim the individual medley (IM), a race split between four strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Holmes also swims freestyle and Walton swims backstroke.

During the 2016 season, the duo found success in various events. Holmes was a finalist in all of her events. "My proudest moment was taking fourth in the 200-yard freestyle with a three-second drop from my best time," she says. At the team's end-of-season banquet, Holmes was named most dedicated and most inspiring for her perseverance. "We are a team, and I hope my teammates know that I couldn't have succeeded without them."

This year, Walton qualified for nationals for the fourth team, and he qualified to be an All-American, with a seventh-place finish in the 200 IM and two 13th-place finishes in the 200 backstroke and 400 IM.

"My most memorable moment of my final season would have to be realizing my goal of being an All-American and standing on the podium at nationals," Walton says. "It's been a goal of mine for the past three years, and I was finally able to make it a reality."

The teammates agree that their success has come through intense dedication to the sport.

"The most challenging thing for any swimmer is keeping the right mindset about everything," Holmes says. "Swimming is 99 percent mental, and it's important to always be ready to give everything you've got, even if you're doubting yourself. Giving up is not an option."

Walton says another challenging aspect is the amount of energy that daily practices require. "There's not much left in the tank to do homework at night, and it can be a struggle to stay awake in classes," he says. "After that, another challenge is waking up at 4:45 a.m. to do morning practices four times a week."

Walton, who majored in kinesiology at Whitworth, is now enrolled in Whitworth's three-year Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy Program. He will also assist with the swim team outside the pool. His long-term goal is to earn a doctorate in sports psychology and be an athletic therapist.

After Holmes earns her B.A. in biology, she plans to take a year off to work and gain more experience before applying to attend veterinarian-medicine school. "Swimming will always be a part of my life, whether or not I am able to get in the water," she says. "Once you're a swimmer, you're always a swimmer."