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Ian Rainey takes a victory lap to college


An academic year after Henry Wynne ’13 and his nationwide prowess, Staples has a new athlete with Olympic aspirations to watch. He doesn’t run, like Wynne. In fact, he doesn’t travel by foot at all.

Ian Rainey ’14 finds his solace in the pool.

Rainey splashed onto the elite swimming scene in both the state and country last year. Along the way, he set Connecticut records in the 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m individual medley races over this past summer. And, perhaps even more impressively, Rainey has qualified for the Olympic Trials for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio De Janeiro.

“I just work as hard as I can to become the best swimmer I can be,” Rainey said.

At 5 a.m. every Saturday, Rainey’s alarm clock goes off for his regular 6 a.m. practices. While the rest of the Staples’ community remains asleep after a long week in school, Rainey is already in the water honing his craft.

“Ian loves to train very hard and do things in practice at an elite level,” Randy Erlenbach, Rainey’s coach, said. Rainey’s passion to be challenged in practice has made him into the swimmer he is today, and will help him to continue to improve in his future. “A typical practice day will involve about 10,000 meters of swimming,” Rainey explained. “I know that going all out everyday in practice will lead to success in the future ”

Just two years ago, Rainey swam in relative anonymity in his hometown McLean, Va.

“At this point I wasn’t really getting any looks from colleges,” Rainey said. In fact, Erlenbach even says that, shortly after moving to Westport, Rainey “wasn’t one of our best swimmers.”

“Working hard paired with a new training perspective, having moved teams, really helped [his] improvement,” Erlenbach said. As Rainey improved exponentially after moving to Westport, he began to really buy into the training and began swimming at least 35 miles a week.

And, with this new perspective, Rainey began to make a name for himself.

“It was not until a Grand Prix meet in Orlando Florida, February 2013, that we began to think that Ian might be very good,” Erlenbach said.

Rainey continued to impress on the big stages, as he swam a 15:59 in the 1500m freestyle at YMCA Nationals in a winning effort that crowned him as a national champion. Then, at the Junior Nationals meet, he went on to swim the 800m freestyle in 8:13 which placed him 11th. Back in Virginia, Rainey swam these two events in 17:56 and 9:56, respectively.

To put Rainey’s improvement in perspective, for the 1500m freestyle, this change in times would be the equivalent of running a mile at a rather pedestrian 6:08 clip sophomore year, and then running a Henry Wynne-esque 4:05 mile as a junior. For the 800m, the time change would be the equivalent of running a gym class 7:31 mile to that same Henry Wynne time of 4:05.

These times qualified Rainey for the Olympic trials, which he describes as his greatest swimming accomplishment yet.

“It felt pretty cool knowing that I will be going up against some of the best competition in the world,” Rainey said.

“After about a year of what seemed to be exponential growth both performance and practice-wise, Ian was not just among the fastest on our team and our state, he was among the fastest in the entire country,” Jordan Berger, Rainey’s former teammate, said.

Though the prospect of competing against Olympians might make others shy away, Erlenbach says Rainey is different. “He is not intimidated by competing with Olympians,” Erlenbach said. “In fact, he relishes it.”

“I just focus on swimming my own race and don’t get discouraged no matter how far ahead they are,” Rainey said. “Actually, I use them as motivation.”

Accompanying his in-pool performance, former teammates Nathaniel Boley ’13 and Berger praised Rainey’s selflessness and out-of-the-pool attributes.

Berger recalls this past summer, when Rainey had to decide whether to travel to YMCA Nationals in Georgia with the team, or to travel to California for the Junior National Championships — an event “crucial” to the recruiting process, according to Berger. Of course, Rainey put the team before himself.

Rainey decided to travel to Georgia in order to swim some events for our team, and then headed directly to California to compete there. “Not only is Ian a tremendously talented swimmer, but he is a selfless team player as well,” Berger said.

Boley agrees.

“Ian never fails to be both funny and interesting, a trait that is often lacking in the personalities in such high performing athletes,” Boley said.

Boley and Berger both described Rainey as constantly joking around with them, both inside and outside of the pool.

It is impossible to tell exactly what the future holds for Rainey. Someday, he plans “to make NCAA Championships,” he said.

Judging what Rainey has already accomplished, that is a very attainable goal. However, the real question here is; what else can Rainey achieve? Both his teammates and his coach seem to agree, Rainey has the potential to go far in the swimming world. “I would not second guess a go at an Olympic Trial semi-final or final position, a spot on the Junior World Team, or even a chance to swim at the NCAA Championships,” Berger said. “Based on how rapidly Ian has been progressing so far, no one can truly say what his potential is.”

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Bobby Jacowleff
Bobby Jacowleff, Web Sports Editor
Inklings Web Sports Editor Bobby Jacowleff, ‘14 is, in a word, unstoppable. With two sports captain positions under his belt, and a demanding Inklings position, his drive and commitment alone are impressive. But more notable than Bobby’s success is his ability to fight through anything in the way of his goals. Bobby may seem nonchalant about his abilities, there’s nothing to be casual about. He is a varsity football cornerback, a captain for indoor and outdoor track, and has already been recruited for track by universities including Emory and Amherst. More importantly, his achievements haven’t come without obstacle. Jacowleff received Tommy John surgery freshman year after overuse of his arm in football caused a tendon in his elbow to displace a piece of bone. This injury failed to hinder Bobby. He soon returned to football, and when he couldn’t continue baseball, instead of just giving up, he turned to track and realized his incredible talent for it. Bobby’s perseverance and determination for success extend from the sports fields to the newsroom. He balances sports practices with the demanding duties of a web editor. His favorite article to write was on Tom Milone, the first high school student in Connecticut to be drafted. The piece required extensive investigation and direct source coverage, but again Bobby’s diligence was evident in his thorough reporting. Despite his journalistic and athletic achievements, Jacowleff’s pride is concentrated elsewhere. “I’ve never had chapped lips or a paper cut,” he proclaims proudly. “And I’ve never even tried to avoid them.”

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