Waynesboro Family Y swimmer ready for open-water test

Jessica Arnold is already a high-school state-champion swimmer. Now the rising sophomore at Spotswood has a chance to add world champion to her resume.

“I’m so excited. I’m really honored to be able to represent my country and meet new people, and to meet new friends from all over the world,” said Arnold, who will represent the USA and the Waynesboro Family Y SMAC program at the Aug. 16-19 FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships.

Arnold qualified for the world meet by placing seventh at the USA 5K Open Water Nationals in April. She’s been on a busy training schedule since, logging 8,000 to 9,000 meters a day in the water, including training sessions at a private quarry in the Mint Spring area.

“It’s pretty intense,” Arnold said. “Training is really grueling, and you get broken down, but you just have to keep a good mental attitude and know that you can do it, and it will just make you better.”

Arnold is no stranger to success in competitive swimming. She won the 2012 state championship in the 500-yard freestyle representing Spotswood High School and finished fourth in the 1500-meter freestyle at the 2012 YMCA Nationals meet.

But that was in the pool. The race is a bit different out there in the open water, according to Waynesboro Family Y/SMAC coach Norm Wright.

“When you’re in the pool, you can look at the line, and you’ve got the markings on the bottom and so forth,” Wright said. “When you’re doing open water, you’ve got to be able to pick your head up, see where you’re going. That takes extra energy. There’s some technique involved that we’ve been working on.”

The distance is also a big difference. Arnold will be in the water for a three-plus-mile swim at this week’s world championships.

“In the 500, it’s pretty much a sprint the whole time. In the 5K, you still have to work hard the whole time, but it’s more about endurance. You can’t just waste all your energy at the beginning, because you have to save something for the end,” Arnold said.

Wright knows that his swimmer is ready for the big test.

“Some people are deterred from doing a marathon in running. People are more interested in being a sprinter. It’s a little bit less work sometimes, a little bit less distance, so there’s a mentality there. There’s definitely a toughness to being an open-water swimmer,” Wright said.


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