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Jackson-Clark Swimming to Top of San Rafael Charts

The sophomore has made rapid improvement in her 100-yard breaststroke time for the Bulldogs.

As Carly Jackson-Clark can attest, there’s more to swimming than, well, swimming.

There’s the dive into the pool, something the sophomore isn’t particularly good at.

And then there’s that pesty wall, another obstacle Jackson-Clark always finds in her path to the finish line.

Alas, Jackson-Clark remains a pretty good swimmer because, well, she’s a pretty good swimmer.

“She used last year to get comfortable in the pool,” San Rafael coach Matt Swanson observed. “This year she’s just really put in the (practice). Her times have been coming down a couple of seconds each meet, which is incredible.”

Swanson said Jackson-Clark “had a great race against Drake and against Terra Linda,” but she prefers to talk about her win in the 100-yard breaststroke against Marin Catholic.

“I knew some of their girls from water polo. They were really good in water polo,” she said of her Fall sport. “And they’re good swimmers, too. When I won that race, I felt really good.”

Jackson-Clark’s goal this season is to finish in the top five at the Marin County Athletic League Championships in her specialty, the breaststroke. At the same time, she’d like to accomplish her season goal of clocking 1:10 or under (her best currently is 1:12.82) and move closer to San Rafael’s 30-year-old school record of 1:03.

To do that, she’s got those two trouble spots – the start and the turn – to shore up.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she assured.

“When I jump off the block, my hands come apart and that slows me down a lot. Coach has me put my hands together on the block, and that helps, but it’s hard to remember. I start thinking about my turns or something like that and I forget about my hands.

“On the turns, I need to remember to touch light and then explode. I’m getting better at it. I just need to practice that a little more.”

Practice is one of the things Jackson-Clark does best, her coach assures.

“She one of those kids who’s always the first one in the pool and pushing everyone else in practice,” Swanson gushed. “She has a lot of energy. She’s always laughing, always joking. She’s fun to coach.”

Jackson-Clark understands swimming is an individual sport, but she wouldn’t have half as much fun without her teammates.

“I’m just happy to be there, just happy to hang out with all the other swimmers on the team. We’re like a family,” she said. “Swimming is more about how much you beat your time by from last meet. But also it’s a team effort and everyone is happy about that.”

But in the end, the 5-foot-11 ¼ Jackson-Clark knows it’s all about her breaststroke, the dive and the wall.

“I’m happy with my progress,” she assured. “By the end of this year, I want to be under 1:10. And someday I want to be on the San Rafael record board. It’s a lofty expectation.”

SAN RAFAEL GIRLS SWIMMING UPDATE

Record: 2-5 in MCAL.

Coach Matt Swanson’s comments: “There’s a group of sophomores who have really improved their times: Natasha Sharpe, Carly Jackson-Clark and Helene Erhler. They’re getting a lot of points for us.

“There are two more meets (before the MCAL Championships), but from here on out, it’s an individual game. We swam 5,000 yards (Tuesday), and we’ll do it again (Thursday). I’ll really push them the next two weeks, then taper down. Right now, it’s about the individuals getting their best times for the league meet.”

Upcoming schedule: Friday at Justin-Siena, 4 p.m.; May 6 at home vs. Tam, 4 p.m.

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