Jessica MacDonald is shown in this undated photo. — Star file photo
Already juggling the demands of university and athletics, Jessica MacDonald decided to add another responsibility to the list.
Starting this fall, she’ll be a resident advisor (RA) for a residence at the St. Anne’s University campus in Pointe-de-l'Église, N.S., where she is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in education and competing on the Les Aquadiens de Clare swim club.
“There’s going to be lots of things going on next year,” she said via telephone while on vacation with family in Houston, TX.
“I like being busy,” she said. “I don’t like being bored.”
That mentality inspired her to begin swim racing this year, after discovering there was no synchronized swim team to join. That particular sport is her first love and she spent years perfecting it with the Corner Brook Reflections.
“I do miss synchro,” she admitted. “Swimming is not so much of a team sport. I mean, you’re with your team, but all your swimming is individual.”
Though she missed the team aspect of synchro, she said racing is actually less stressful.
“With synchro, you had to memorize all the counts and make sure you were on time with your partner or your team,” she said. “But with swimming, you just go in and swim as fast as you can.”
Her first three swim meets of the season weren’t easy, but she improved enough that she impressed at the junior provincials back in February, posting personal best times and just missing out on a couple of gold medals. She only competed in one more meet after that, as the second semester of school was incredibly busy for her, but she did “fairly well” in that one too.
“It went a lot better than I thought it was going to,” she said of her rookie swim season. “Hopefully it will be even better next year.”
Considering she knew next to nothing about the sport when she started, her improvement has been exceptional.
“You pretty much have to change all your strokes, then after you have your strokes built, you build the speed skill,” she explained. “It’s a lot of change.”
She and her family will return home from Texas on June 1, at which time she’ll embark on a summer training program developed by her coach, Moira Brown. Because of her vacation, which also took her to Florida for a couple of weeks, she’ll be about a month behind the rest of her teammates.
“lt will be tough to adapt back into it,” she said. “I can adapt workouts myself and build up to what they’re doing, but it’s going to be pretty rough.”
The 19-year-old daughter of Terry and Denise is motivated to conquer the workout regimen, however, because she realizes how important it is to bettering herself in the pool.
Her goal for next season is, simply, to improve on her times from this year.
“This was sort of my beginner’s year,” she said.
“Now that I have a little more experience under my belt, it’d be nice to see if I can do any better next time.”
She’s got plenty of time to get herself ready, but her summer will end a little early. She has to head back to university on Aug. 25 for a week of RA training.
“I think it’s a camping trip,” she said. “It should be a lot of fun.”