Sophomore Jaden Christian Olson started swimming at 8 years old and now swims the 100m Backstroke and 100m Butterfly at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). In several events, he broke William Jones College Prep and Chicago Public Schools’ swimming records, taking several of them from fellow high school stand outs. Olson took the 100m and 50m Freestyle records from Thomas Gohres’ and the 200m and 500m records from Nicolas Teodosescu.
Training at Penn
Before starting college, Olson took charge of his swimming career by reaching out to college programs via email. Then it was a close decision for him between Columbia University and The University of Pennsylvania. Columbia had the urban and active environment that he preferred, but he ultimately decided to attend Penn because of their academics. As much as he loves swimming, academics are his priority as an undergraduate.
Olson describes his coaching staff, made up of head coach Mike Schnur and new assistant coach Sasha Malanina, as flexible and intense. Regarding Schnur’s style as a mentor, Olson expressed that Schnur does not micromanage his athletes outside of the pool: “He’s pretty liberal in terms of letting us find our way.”
Still, the program pushes him with two training sessions a day three days a week. From 6am-9am the team lifts weights and works out in the water. Then either 2pm-4pm or 4pm-6pm they swim.
Stats and paper tell us a lot, but I really wanted to see what impassions Jaden Olson to push himself everyday. He said that he started to focus seriously as a swimmer sophomore year of high school. Junior to Senior year he got bigger and swam year round so that he could stay ready to perform.
Internally, Olson likes to compete with himself and is motivated also by his opportunity to get a prestigious education. Olson described Penn’s training and course load as “challenging” but added that the high school season was “more intense”. When I suggested that the high school schedule is supposed to be easier, Olson interjected, “No, it’s not. I don’t know how I did that.” He acknowledged that there are less opportunities to recover during the day due to the scheduling in high school being so brutal.
Regarding internal motivation prior to college, he says, “I would always compete with myself… You finish a swim meet and you don’t do what you [wanted] to do, you know where you can be… I want to put myself in the best position.”
Now looking at his college career, “[He’s] just been having more fun with it,” and he makes it clear that effort will be more important than performance once he looks back at his swimming legacy. This is a swimmer that wants to leave everything in the pool.