By Shel Segal
It's nice to have goals. It's even nicer to actually accomplish them.
And for Monterey Park's David Jakl, that goal has arrived. A lifelong swimmer, the 22-year-old Jakl and graduate of Mark Keppel High will be competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. from June 26 through July 3.
And while the Columbia University graduate admitted he doesn't have much of a chance to make the Olympic team, Jakl said he is just thrilled to be swimming on this stage.
"This is probably one of the biggest meets in the world outside of the Olympics, I'd say," he said. "Since I graduated last year (from Columbia) I had exactly one year to train. ... The main thing going into this year was going into training without school."
And training without having to attend 8 a.m. classes certainly has its benefits, he added.
"At Columbia, I always had a lot of success with my swimming, but I also had about four hours of sleep every night," Jakl said. "At a school that academically rigorous I could not put all my attention into swimming. Now I've had more relaxation time. I think that's working better for me now."
Jakl advanced to the Olympic Trials after a strong performance last December at the U.S. Nationals in Seattle, swimming the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke.
At Nationals, Jakl set personal records to move on in both event - swimming a 53.7 in the 100 butterfly and a 56.1 in the 100 backstroke - and he beat the cut by a full second in both events.
So, how did Jakl end up originally in a swimming pool? It was actually out of a health concern, he said.
"My mom actually put me into swimming when I was 3 years old because I had asthma," he said. "From swimming I grew out of the asthma. I went to a lot of club teams."
Jakl went on to swim with several club teams, he said, and swam at the varsity level at Keppel. Currently, he is training with a swim team at USC. And how intense is that training?
"It's a lot of pushing it to the level every single minute in every aspect," Jakl said. "Whereas before you were training and you were swimming thousands and thousands of meters and working on endurance, this is kind of intensity focused. It's quality versus quantity: more speed, more focused."
Jakl's coach at Columbia was Jim Bolster, who headed the men's swim team. Bolster said it was a treat to coach Jakl.
"He was great for our program," Bolster said. "He got better every year. He was a good role model for kids coming up. We talked about how good he could be and he followed that."
Bolster added Jakl just seemed to come alive on race day.
"Not only was he a good swimmer, he's also a good competitor," Bolster said. "He loves to race. When he gets on the block he takes that as a challenge, I'm better than you, I can beat you. He loves to race and he loves to win. ... That's something you really can't teach."
Bolster also said Jakl should be very proud of his accomplishment,
"It's a significant landmark achievement in anyone's career to work the Olympic Trials and compete," he said. Jakl got his start as a youngster with the Monterey Park Manta Rays Swim Club. Today, he is returning the favor as a coach with the Rays.
And once he is done swimming, Jakl - who now has a degree in economics - said he would like to pursue a career in the financial sector. And he added he is also interested in coaching.