Tobias Work is a name that is spoken reverently at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s pool. The Falmouth native, who won a silver medal at the 2007 Pan-AM Games, is the most decorated swimmer in the Cape Cod Swim Club’s history. His name appears nine times on the club’s scoreboard of record holders that adorns the wall at the MMA pool.
It used to appear more than nine times. When Jarrett Jones is done, it is likely to appear a lot less.
Jones, of Hatchville, is on his way to becoming the next big star from the CCSC. Over the past few months he’s earned his way onto the record board three times, including his super fast time of 3:54.87 at last month’s New England Elite Meet in the 400 individual medley. That time earned him a spot on the board, first place in New England and was the 60th-fastest time ever swum by an athlete 15-16 years old. The 16-year-old’s time was the second-fastest nationwide in his age group this year by anyone in that race.
Jones also took first place in the 200 individual medley. He finished that race in 1:53.84, a full two seconds faster than any other competitor that day. In addition, he earned three second places in the open division that day, in the 200 butterfly, 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle. He also was third in the 100 freestyle. The races he did not win were all against older swimmers, and in each instance the time between them and him was very slim.
“I recently just broke three of (Work’s) records, and I’m hoping to break more,” Jones said. “In our club, everyone looks up to how good Tobias was. I want to equal that, or top what he did. He was really, really good.”
A sophomore at Falmouth High School, Jones has been swimming competitively since he was about 7 years old. At the age of 10, he said, he realized that he “had a gift for swimming” and has dedicated himself to getting better and better ever since.
He lives with his father, Stacy, along with his four brothers, all of whom also swim for the CCSC. His brother Tyler, 14, is also a talented competitor. Nine-year old Griffin has shown promise as well, and 5-year-old twins, Chris and Zack, are in the Learn to Swim program.
A drive to be the best has pushed him along each step of the way. Coach Ron Zuwallack, whose name is also in the record books at the CCSC and has been coaching Jones, along with Marc Solomon, for the past seven years, said that right now Jones is one of top one or two swimmers in New England overall in his age group. Overall in New England, amongst all age groups, Zuwallack said that Jones is around the top five.
“He’s always been very competitive. Each year, in New England, he catches some of his rivals. When he was 10, maybe 15 guys were faster than him. When he was 12, there were eight guys that were better than him. He’s slowly been getting better and better each year. This year, he’s definitely one of the top guys in New England,” Zuwallack said.
Jones said that two years ago he started to realize that he might have a serious future in the sport of swimming if he dedicated himself to it. That summer he took first place in his age group in New England and was named the region’s top athlete. “That was the first time I ever won a championship meet. Ever since then, I’ve been working a lot harder to up nationally,” he said.
The phrase “working hard” is not thrown around lightly by Jones. He spends more time in the water than some people spend in their beds, swimming 60,000 to 65,000 yards each week, which correlates to about 34 to 37 miles per week. That’s a lot of laps in a pool that is just 25 yards long.
He admitted that at times it seems like he should receive his mail at the MMA pool. “You kind of live here when you’re on a schedule like this,” he said.
Typically, Jarrett awakens around 4:20 AM and is out the door by 4:45. He is in the pool almost every morning in Buzzards Bay from 5:15 to 6:30 AM. He then showers and heads back to Falmouth High School, where he has been able to maintain a regular spot on the honor roll. He puts in a typical day for a high school sophomore there, from 7:30 AM to about 2 PM.
Jarrett rides the bus home from school and then grabs a quick bite to eat. Actually, he said that he eats constantly throughout the day to keep up with his sky-high metabolism and his body’s need for fuel. If he has time, he’ll catch a quick cat nap if he doesn’t have too much homework to get through.
At 4 PM, he and his brother Tyler are in the car and on their way to Mass Maritime for the evening workout. He’s there from 4:30 to 7:30 and then gets back home a little after 8. Any homework he wasn’t able to get done at school, or in the car or on the bus, is then taken care of. An avid sports fan, he tries to steal some time with SportsCenter whenever possible to keep up with his favorite teams.
“Sleep is kind of a luxury,” he said with a laugh. “There have been times that I’ve been so worn down, with schoolwork, and it’s cold outside, and you just don’t want to do it. You just want to take the next practice off, and stop. But I remind myself that it’s all worth it. Every minute that I’m in the pool, I’m getting better. That’s worth it, and I have to keep getting after it.”
“Jarrett is working as hard as any 16-year-old kid anywhere right now,” coach Zuwallack said.
Throughout the course of the year, he gets about a week off from training for vacation, once in April and again in August. The rest of the year is training for the next big race, which now is the Speedo Sectional Championships in Buffalo, NY, later this month.
“It’s funny, the last time we were getting a break, I couldn’t wait to sleep and do nothing. By about the third day I couldn’t wait to get back in the water. I just had to swim,” he said.
Ultimately, Jarrett hopes someday that his swim cap has three letters on it: “USA.” He said that he dreams of swimming for a national team on one of the big stages and that that goal drives him.
“It might sound cliché, but anything is realistic. My real dream is to compete on some sort of US national team; that’s my big goal. We work really hard at the Cape Cod Swim Club and if I keep that up, I can achieve everything that I want,” Jones said.
“He’s a great goal-setter. What we’ve found, over the years, is that he sets a goal and he knocks it down. He’s good at it,” Zuwallack said. “He’s not there yet. He still has a ways to go, but he has the potential to get there if he keeps working at it.”