Wednesday, August 10, 2011
DALLAS -- Jolie-Rae Ford of the Dallas Blue Dolphins swim team has come a long way in a relatively short span of time.
"At her very first practice, she made it one length of the pool," father Brad Ford said. "Then she would sit there and cry."
That was when Jolie-Rae Ford was 6 years old. Now just short of her 12th birthday, Ford recently competed in her ninth state championship event. The 7th-grader-to-be at LaCreole Middle School swam the 200-meter individual medley, the 50 backstroke, the 100 freestyle and the 50 freestyle. Her best finish was eighth in the 50 backstroke.
"It's kind of nerve-racking but really fun," Ford said about the state meet. "There are so many different people there, really fast people. There are some teams that are just giant. You're looking around, and it's like 'Whoa!'"
Ford, whose first name is drawn from the names of her two grandfathers, took lessons with friend Kaitlyn Senger at the Dallas Aquatic before joining the Blue Dolphins.
"I just love the feeling of getting in the water and hanging out with the team," Ford said. "You get this kind of feeling like you're flying in water. It's just kind of like you're floating. It's cool."
Ford has learned improving as a swimmer might be more mental than physical.
"A lot of it is in your mind," she said. "You have to really think about what you're doing and what you can do to get better."
Ford indicated her success can be traced to the support of her teammates.
"I think I'm pretty good because everyone on my team really encourages me," she said.
Ford's early success in the swimming pool has given rise to some lofty ambitions.
"I'd like to go to college for swimming and hopefully become an Olympic swimmer," she said. "I'll have to work really hard in practice."