Students can’t wait to cheer Olympic triathlete swim coach

Kathy Uek

While flying to California for team processing before heading to the Olympics, Jarrod Shoemaker wrote from his BlackBerry: 

"Wow is about the only word on my mind right now. For me having qualified last September, the date of Aug. 8, 2008, always felt a long way off as I looked ahead toward the opening ceremonies. As this year moved on, things began to fly by and all of a sudden it was Aug. 1 and I was starting to pack and get ready to leave."

Preparations for the Olympics, wrote Shoemaker, are unlike any of his other races. In addition to bringing clothing for two weeks of travel, Shoemaker, who will compete in the triathlon, is packing for every contingency imaginable. His bags at the airport showed it. They weighed just under the allowable limit and he still has to add another bag of Olympian team clothes in San Francisco.

South Korea is next on Shoemaker’s itinerary for team training from Aug. 9 to 15 and finally, back to China, said Jason Mucher, USA Triathlon communications and media relations manager.

While Shoemaker works his way to China to compete for Olympic gold, Alex Boyd thinks about what he learned from Shoemaker, his swim coach at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

"We saw him working out all the time," said Boyd. "He taught me so much about racing and mindset motivation.

"The biggest lesson he taught me is you really can achieve any of your goals," said Boyd, a recent L-S graduate. "He just started doing his training after college and three or four years later, he’s going to the Olympics. He makes me want to train harder and to be the best I can be."

To be an Olympian, Shoemaker trains 18 to 20 hours each week. He swims almost four miles, bikes 6 to 10 hours and runs 30 to 40 miles.

Shoemaker’s family plans to arrive in China in time for the Olympics. His 17-year-brother, Jake, said he’s not nervous.

"I’m more excited for the opportunity for him," said Jake, who like Jarrod, plans to study at Dartmouth in the fall. "Our sibling relationships are very strong. I’m very proud of my brother for his accomplishments and will be there cheering him on."

Jake will be joined in the stands by about a dozen other family members.

Jarrod’s mother, Mae, said she is still in shock. "I will hit me when I get there. I’m geared to go."

At home, a host of others will be rooting for their friend.

"It’s absolutely incredible that he’s going to the Olympics and I feel like I’m riding his coattails, which is totally fun," said Nancy O’Neil, athletic director at L-S.  "What an experience this young man is having. He was a very successful student athlete at L-S and was very successful at Dartmouth.

"While he’s training and competing in all these triathlons, he found time to coach swimming at L-S for the past four years," said O’Neil, who has known Jarrod since he was 14. "It’s exciting to have someone of this caliber coach the swim team. What a wonderful resource for our students."

The entire swim team is excited for him, said Anne Boudrot, head swim coach at L-S, who as a friend of Shoemaker’s mother, Mae, has known Jarrod since he was 7.

 "It’s been fun watching him," she said. "I’m very excited for him. I hope he enjoys the experience and gets a lot out of it."

We all have our tickets and are making T-shirts, said Jake.

The T-shirts, bright yellow, so Jarrod can pick us out of the red, white and blue crowd, said Mae Shoemaker, hopefully will say, "swim hard, bike strong and run fast. Good luck Jarrod."