5 Reasons To Count On Olympian Jack Conger

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

By SuSu Almousa, Swimming World College Intern 

As swimmers, we all have two fantasies: 1. Make the Olympic Team 2. Be featured as Swimming World Magazine’s National High School Swimmer of the Year. Jack Conger can rest easy. The rising senior at University of Texas Longhorns has managed to do both.

Conger grew up in Maryland, where he started swimming at a young age. He blossomed in high school, breaking a 30-year-old National H.S. record in the 500 free and setting the National Independent H.S. record in the 100 free (42.81) as well. A rare breed, Conger could go a 46.1 100-yard fly, 45.3 100-yard back, 1:38.7 200-yard back, 1:34.1 200 -yard free and 19.8 50-yard free…in high school.

His versatility and speed won over University of Texas Head Coach Eddie Reese (along with a slew of other coaches). Conger was given an athletic scholarship to represent UT, where he is majoring in corporate communications. He and his Longhorn teammates, Townley Haas and Clark Smith will team up to swim as part of the 4×200 freestyle relay in Rio. Conger secured his spot on the Olympic relay with a third place finish in the 200 free last month in Omaha. 

Here are a few more reasons to count on Jack Conger:

1.This isn’t his first big meet. 

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Photo Courtesy: Jack Conger (Facebook)

Conger came close to making the team in 2012, placing 5th in the 200-meter backstroke and 8th in the 100-meter backstroke. He is a five-time World University Games medalist (2013, 2015) and is the current American record-hold in the 200-yard fly. Conger entered 2016’s Trials with a wealth of collegiate racing experience. With four Longhorn teammates on the U.S. Olympic Team, we know they put in some epic training there in Austin, Texas. 

2. He is extremely versatile.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Jack Conger is one of those swimmers where it’s hard to remember his event or his stroke, because he does it all. He broke the US Open record in the 200-yard butterfly in 2015, won the silver at the NCAA championships in this event and the 100-yard fly. But, he also swam freestyle in the Longhorns medley relay that same meet and in their 800 free relay. At the 2015 U.S Nationals, Conger finished second to Michael Phelps in both the 100m and 200m butterfly, and finished second to Caeleb Dressel in the 100m freestyle. But now he’s swimming a 200 free in the 800m, relay? Yep, this guy can do it all.

3. He hit a mental wall, and overcame it.

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Photo Courtesy: Jack Conger (Facebook)

All great athletes have moments of weakness. Performance plateaus are more than just physical setbacks, but mental ones as well. Conger admits to hitting a wall after his freshman year, and it wasn’t until he had a conversation with his mentor and role model, Aaron Piersol, that Conger’s mentality about the sport changed. Conger began swimming for himself, and with that mentality, he became an Olympian.

4. He’s on a roll in the pool and the Honor Roll in school.

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Photo Courtesy: Jack Conger (Facebook)

How can you not adore someone that is an Olympic athlete and on the Honor Roll? As Conger puts it, “School is number 1 and swimming is 1A, so you need to go to study hall; take care of your grades.” It can be argued that the hardest thing to do is not swimming, but preparing for life after swimming, and it seems like Conger is winning the gold in that sense.

5. He’s still young.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

If you told me that this would be Conger’s first and last Olympics, I’d be prompted to laugh. At 21 years old, he’s still making leaps and bounds in the sport. He has done nothing but improve. We can expect great things in Rio and we will likely see him again on the Olympic stage— probably doing a different event, to keep things fresh. 

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Nancy Foster
5 years ago

Best of luck, Jack Conger. Bring home the gold! Make Montgomery County proud.