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3 people in a competitive swimming race.

Swimming, Practice Habits & Busy Young Athletes

06/25/2014, 6:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

"Think of nothing." Paige Jungaro has a lot on her mind.


Paige Jungaro started swimming at the age of 7.

At the age of 7, Paige Jungaro hated swimming. 

“I just didn’t like the water and I really didn’t listen to my parents when they told me it was important to learn how to swim.”

It’s 3:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday and Paige is just starting a workout with trainer Vanessa Brascia. Without missing a beat in her warmup, Paige remembers her early hesitance to swim with a laugh. 

“It’s hard to imagine, I love swimming now. I just came second in the province in the 50 fly. How crazy is that?”

The 50 metre butterfly stroke is just one of Paige’s specialties. A second is acting. The 15 year-old started acting lessons in September, has gone to auditions and even received a couple callbacks. 

“Acting is a lot like swimming,” she says in between pushups.

“You’re all alone by yourself, either in the pool or in an audition room. It’s very individual, it’s all about you. If you lose a race you can only blame yourself and if you don’t get a part it’s the same thing."

“So, you’re sorta busy then?” I ask as Vanessa keeps issuing commands.

“I guess so,” says Paige with a laugh. “It’s all up to me though. Doesn’t matter if it’s swimming, acting or something else I want. If I really want it, I’ll train hard. If I want it, I’ll try to go get it.”

Overcoming Adversity 

Not only has Paige overcome the obstacle of not wanting to swim, she’s been forced to overcome significant injury issues as well. Paige has what her trainers call hyper-mobile shoulders. 

Good for increased range in the pool, bad for risk of permanent shoulder damage.

“I can feel all the strength just drain out of my right shoulder if I push it too hard. It’s brutal."

Coming back from injury is a tough road. Paige is finally 100% injury-free these days, but the risk of re-injury is always there. Not only does she enjoy ripping through reps in the gym faster than Vanessa can say keep your core solid, Paige!, training regularly is crucial to Paige’s future in swimming. 

Focusing on Practice Habits

“Yeah, I get pretty tired. I still have to go to school, after all.”

For Paige, the main key to making all the time in gym worth it is to always work hard. It sounds simple, but for competitive athletes, working hard is a skill you learn, not a skill you’re born with. The ability to push yourself a little bit further each day despite the fatigue, the burning lungs or the aching muscles is a habit that won’t take care of itself

Good habits like work ethic also help Paige avoid injury before she ever dips a toe in the water.

Here’s 3 more habits Paige focuses on in the gym to prevent injury.

  1. Specific Technical Movement 
    Example: avoiding rotating her shoulder too far forward and  proper athletic position in each exercise 
  2. Strength Work 
    Example: repetitive movements like planks, lunges and core work
  3. Knowing Her Limits 
    “When I feel pain or I know I’m about to feel pain in my shoulder, I stop the exercise immediately or get out of the pool.”

A Journey of Performance

“Try to think of nothing.”

Paige Jungaro’s ability to reach into the past instantly to talk about her early days in the water, her injured right shoulder and her triumphs in the pool is remarkable. The drive and dedication in this young woman is an inspiring testament to sticking with something even when it doesn’t always go as planned. 

Fundamentally, Paige is a prime example of busy young athletes everywhere. It’s easy to forget that behind each butterfly stroke, each audition and each devastating injury is a child striving to better herself.

Like it is with so many busy young athletes and the pressure they put on themselves, the clock is ticking. For the purposes of our interview, it’s only been 10 minutes, but it’s time for Paige to focus on her workout.

"So, Paige, what’s the last thing you think about before you dive in the water for a race?"

“Nothing. Try to think of nothing.”

Paige isn’t just speaking about herself at this point, she’s coaching me.

“If you over-think things then you'll get overwhelmed and confused. Because once you jump in, it's all you.”

photo credit: hidden side via photopin cc

Tag(s): Home  Aquatics  NSWC Marlins Swim Team  Fitness