The Grind for Gold


JAKE RAFFA, Sports Department Editor

     The sun shines brightly overhead. The swimmers push themselves to go faster and faster, a blue blur as they race down the Trinity Prep pool. After finishing a grueling set, the swimmers catch their breaths and start swimming again. These aren’t your average swimmers — they have the Olympics to prepare for.

     “It’s been a sustainable effort to try to get Olympians here training, and we’ve done quite a good job,” said head swim coach Rocco Aceto.

     Currently, three Olympic-level swimmers and their teams are using the Trinity pool to train for the upcoming Olympics. Perhaps what makes this experience so unique is that the swimmers aren’t just using Trinity’s facilities, they are interacting with the Trinity Prep swimmers as well. Senior swimmer Austin Warwick described how he and his teammates swam in a meet with them so they could get their Olympic trial times. Essentially what this means, he explained, is these swimmers needed to get faster than a specific time to try out of their country’s Olympic team.

     “It’s definitely impressive to see someone so much better than you, and it makes you motivated to get to that level,” Warwick said. “It also helps to watch their technique and learn from them.”

     Aceto credits this experience to the relationships he’s made over the years.

     “Many years ago, I had a career that skyrocketed into the college and international level,” Aceto said. “Once you hit that level…you can never really leave [your] connections behind.”

     One of these connections Aceto talks about is with two-time Olympic swimmer Brett Hawke. Back in the ‘90s at Auburn University, Aceto coached Hawke. Hawke went on to win multiple NCAA championships and qualified for the Olympics twice. Hawke, like Aceto, is now a coach — he was the head coach at Auburn University until 2018 and continues to train swimmers from around the world. 

     “These [Olympians] come to train with Brett and me,” Aceto said.

     One of the Olympians who came to train with Hawke and Aceto this year is Matt Targett. Targett is a two-time Olympian for Australia and a seven-time NCAA champion. According to Aceto, Targett retired from swimming and started working full-time at Google, but now at 35, he decided to give the Olympics another shot. 

    Another swimmer is Bruno Fratus. Fratus is a Brazilian who placed second at the last World Championship behind Caleb Dressel. After coming up short in the 2016 Olympics, he’s trained relentlessly, medaling in countless international events. He looks to prove his skills once more in the 2021 Olympics. 

     Cody Simpson is also training in Trinity’s pool. Simpson, an Australian, was once a national champion as a kid but decided to shelf his swimming career to become an actor and pop star. After almost a decade away from swimming, he decided to give it another try. Only eight months into training, he has already made his Australian Olympic trial cut.

     “When I stopped swimming when I was younger, I always had the plan of coming back to it one day, but I didn’t know exactly when that was going to be,” Simpson said. “I felt like I had unfinished business with the sport. I felt like I didn’t reach my full potential, so I wanted to come back and have a proper go at it so I don’t live with any regrets or what-ifs later in life.”

     Simpson uses the Trinity pool to swim seven to eight times a week. In addition to these swim sessions, he tries to lift weights at least three times a week. Although daunting, he enjoys every second of it.

     “It’s been great,” Simpson said. “Swimming is such a personally challenging sport…it’s really just you and the water and how far you can push yourself. I really like the solitude of it and also the challenge of it.”

     It’s no secret that the student body, both swimmers and nonswimmers alike, have enjoyed having Simpson and the other swimmers on campus. The swimmers are thankful for their time at Trinity as well.

     “In California everything’s so shut down that we just had no access to pools or facilities,” Simpson said. “Having [Aceto] let us come and swim here [has] been a lifesaver!”