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Olivia Jack picks Penn State

Olivia Jack picks Penn State

Scotia senior has goals before heading off to college
Olivia Jack picks Penn State
Local swimming star Olivia Jack is heading to Penn State.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

BURNT HILLS — Scotia-Glenville swimming star Olivia Jack knows where she's going, and has some objectives in mind before she gets there.

"Leading up to college I want to train, so it's not such a huge shock," Jack, who competes for the combined Burnt Hills/Scotia team,  said after Wednesday's Suburban Council meet with Shenendehowa. "It's a different level. I want to be ready for that, so I'm putting in the time."

Jack recently made a verbal commitment to swim for Penn State University of the Big Ten. The 17-year-old said well over 30 Division I programs expressed interest in having her swim for them.

"I just finalized it a few days ago," Jack said of a phone call to Nittany Lions head swim coach Tim Murphy. "When I was younger, I wanted to go somewhere warm, but I went to Penn State and loved it. The girls were really supportive. The football game was so much fun. The campus is beautiful."

The multi-Section II champion made her official visit to Penn State early in September, and official visits to Duke, Georgia Tech and Rutgers followed.

"They [Penn State assistant coach Steve Barnes] were the only ones who came to my house," Jack said of a July visit. "They met the family. I thought that was really nice."

An individual  state title would be nice, too. It's one of the few things missing on the All-American's impressive high school swimming resume that goes back to her start as an eighth-grader.

In each of the last three years she placed second at the New York championship meet in the 100-yard breaststroke, getting touched out each time by Margaret Aroesty of Long Beach. Aroesty has since moved on to swim for USC.

Jack also placed second at the 2016 state meet in the 100 freestyle.

"A state title, that would be great, but time is my priority," Jack said. "I'd like to go under a minute [in the 100 breast] sometime this season."

Jack has come close several times. She is the area record-holder in the 100 breast with a 1:01.33, which she swam last year during the preliminaries of the Section II Division I championship meet. She won that final with a 1:01.61 [one of her nine Section II victories], and at the state event clocked 1:01.85, and then a 1:01.39.

"What if I come in second at the state meet and swim a 59 breast?" Jack said. "Colleges don't care about my place."

Jack eased to a win in the 100 breast Wednesday in 1:07.45. She easily prevailed in the 100 butterfly, as well, with a 59.16. She is intent on going so much faster.

"Every practice is important," said Jack, whose younger brothers, Dominic and Kofi, and younger sister, Tia, are all involved in athletics. "I'm not sure what events I am going to swim yet [at the state event], but I want to be ready for it."

Jack is also intent on maintaining her high academic standing. Her high school average through her junior year was a 97.

"I've heard a lot of senioritis stories," said Jack, who will study medicine at Penn State. "I don't feel that."

Jack said she plans to again run outdoor track for the Tartans, something she's done since her sophomore year.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, jims@dailygazette.com or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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