When Dreams Become Reality
Mar 01, 2018 10:40AM
● By Maleesa Johnson
Now towering at about 6’ 3”, it’s hard to imagine
Jack LeVant clutching a Stanford University swim cap as an nine year old. And
while Jack had been already been swimming for several years by that point,
that’s when the Stanford dream started.
“You don’t really think that much about it when they’re that young,” his mom, Michelle LeVant says, her voice cracking with emotion. “Now here he is, getting ready to go to swim at Stanford.”
His coach gave that swim cap as a reward breaking a minute in the 100-yard freestyle. For eight years since then, the cap has been in a frame, hanging on his wall. During that time, Jack has been training, sweating, waking up early, studying and staring at that cap on his wall. In June last year, he proved that all of his hard work had paid off by verbally committing to Stanford University.
Two Teams, One Goal
Anyone who watches sports movies knows that the workout scenes are usually comprised of quick, inspirational montages. It’s fun to watch, but viewers know that in reality, those montages represent hours upon hours of hard work and commitment. That couldn’t be more true for Jack. He trains before school with the Southlake Carroll Swim Team. Then, he grabs breakfast at the cafeteria and goes to class. Now as a senior, he has off periods, but that wasn’t always the case. After class, he goes home, takes a quick nap and heads to train with the North Texas Nadadores– a club swim team. But not just any club team. The North Texas Nadaores has churned out a myriad of high level swimmers, including 2016 Olympic medalist Katie Meili, Olympic qualifier and current Texas Longhorn Brett Ringgold as well as Olympic trial competitor and Texas Longhorn Jonathan Roberts.
“It’s not easy,” Jack says. “Getting out of bed early when it’s cold just to go get in a cold pool. It requires a lot of motivation.”
For Jack, a lot of that motivation comes from his teammates. He says his high school swim team is more focused on the team while club swimming is more about the individual. And while Jack is certainly working toward his own goals, he pushes himself for his team as well.
“Our focus is always on the team,” Southlake Carroll Swim coach Kevin Murphy says. “Our boys brought home the seventh state title in a row and we plan to do it again. It’s the team that drives success.”
Indeed, Southlake is no stranger to success in the pool. Coach Murphy says that of the estimated 8,000 students in Carroll ISD, 750 of them are part of a club or school swimming team.
“We’re really blessed,” he says. “Southlake is a special place for swimming.”
However, this much popularity around the sport makes getting on a team that much more competitive, much less two teams. And of course, being on two teams with different coaches could present its own set of challenges. Thankfully for Jack, he says the coaches are cohesive in their training.
“I’m really fortunate,” he says. “My coaches know each other and are great to work with. Their workouts don’t contradict each other.”
‘Normal Teenage Stuff’
Between the two teams, Jack puts in over 20 hours of training per week. When he isn’t working out or swimming, Jack says he enjoys doing what he call “normal teenage stuff”: hanging out with friends and listening to music. There isn’t always much time for that, though. On top of a rigorous athletic schedule, Jack is taking AP classes and keeping his grades up.
“Stanford doesn’t cut any corners just because he is an athlete,” Michelle says. “If people are wondering if those AP classes matter, they absolutely do.”
The Long Lane to Stanford
By now, it’s probably pretty clear that Jack has the motivation and discipline of a professional athlete. If you haven’t picked up on that, here is what his coach has to say about him:
“Jack has an incredible work ethic,” Coach Murphy says. “More than that, he is very talented, humble and coachable.”
And while character references are valuable, how about a few statistics to back them up? For example, In December, Jack set the new SC Junior Nationals meet record in the men’s 500 freestyle. His time of 4:14:04 blew the previous meet record (4:15.36) out of the water and set a personal best by almost four seconds. To put it in perspective, the current record holder for Boys’ 17-18 U.S. National Age Group Records posted a time of 4:12:33 in 2004. You may have heard of him... Michael Phelps. That’s right, Jack is only about one and a half seconds away from beating a national record held by an international legend.
Moreover, he was chosen for the U.S. Junior World team this summer. He competed in the 4x200 Free Relay, and the U.S team advanced to the finals, where they missed gold by one-one hundredth of a second. Hungary’s team placed a time of 7:10.95 to the U.S team’s 7:10.96.
“It was heartbreaking for them to be so close, but it’s still an amazing accomplishment,” Michelle says.
Indeed, both teams shattered the former Junior World Record, as did the bronze-winning Russian team.
Now, headed to his dream school, Jack has a full swimming career ahead of him. In the words of Coach Murphy:
“If he keeps it up, he’s only going to get better.”