Jess Schellenboom found her passion in the pool


Feet jump up and down on the slippery pool deck. Arms swing back and forth, slapping the sides of senior Jess Schellenboom’s body. She stretches her goggles over her eyes and steps onto the rough surface of the diving block. As the horn sounds, she dives into the chilling water and races to become the champion.

For the past nine years, Jess has been competing and swimming for various teams. Much of her life has been spent in the pool, mainly swimming with the local RAYS team, and as of a few years ago, she has been a vital member of FHC’s swim and dive team. However, she wasn’t always as dedicated and passionate as she is now.

It wasn’t until Jess made nationals for the first time at the age of twelve that she knew swimming was her true passion. Besides being a unique experience, it was also a pivotal moment that was key in proving to herself that she was a naturally talented swimmer and that her career could continue on past high school.

“The first time I made nationals really pushed me to want to swim during college,” Jess said. “It showed me that I had to keep working hard and that all the training would pay off.”

As she’s gotten older, the more she’s realized how practices and the training has only gotten tougher and more challenging, making it all the more necessary to lean on those around her. All throughout her journey in and out of the pool, her parents and coaches have been her rock.

“I appreciate my mom and dad a lot because they drive me to morning practices at five o’clock in the morning, and they always come to meets and sit all day in the hot stands,” Jess said. “My coaches who have been coaching me for years have also helped me so much.”

In addition to physically honing her talents as a swimmer, she has also developed an important mental skill, one that is vital for success in swimming: determination.

Every day, Jess pushes her body to the limit which both tests and strengthens her, mentally and physically. In spite of this though, she always continues to pursue her dreams no matter how brutal the pain may be in the pool.

“It always hurts really bad,” Jess said. “Sometimes you just want to die, but once you see your time at the end [of the race], it’s worth it.”

Going into her freshman year, Jess decided to join the school’s swim and dive team. And while the practices were agonizing for her younger self, her hard work paid off. Even as freshmen, she became an all-conference swimmer, an unusual feat for someone so young. 

Each year followed the same pattern, and never once did she fail to receive the all-conference title. This season, Jess even won the state championship for the 100-yard breaststroke.

Because of her outstanding performance as a swimmer over her long career, last year, Jess landed a spot on the team at the D1 school Liberty University. In the fall of 2019, Jess will be swimming alongside new teammates and coaches in the state of Virginia.

“I really loved the atmosphere at Liberty,” Jess said. “The coaches and the team felt really inviting, and I felt like I would really enjoy it.”

Although Jess has found much success in the pool, she has also found the people she loves most. Her closest friends are all swimmers because they endure the early morning swims, pain, and adventures side by side.

“Pretty much all of my best friends are swimmers, and they have definitely shaped who I am today,” Jess said. “Swimming with my teammates has really built my character and hard work development.”

Although her final year of college means Jess’s final year of swimming, she is grateful for all of the lessons and skills it had brought into her life. Whether it be the trait of determination or the skill to be an outstanding teammate, Jess’s life has been forever changed by a simple sport.

“Swimming has taught me to always be supportive of your teammates,” Jess said. “Without them, you would definitely not be as good because they are pretty much your whole world.”