Swimming: Montgomery’s Jenna Bauer aims for 1st section title

Jenna Bauer

Montgomery’s Jenna Bauer, 18, won the 200 IM against Windsor during the meet held at the Healdsburg Swim Center on Tuesday.
(CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

PROFILE
Jenna Bauer, senior

Empire records: 200 Freestyle 1:48.95; 500 Freestyle 4:48.58

NCS bests: 200 Freestyle 4th 2013, 2nd 2012, 4th 2011; 500 Freestyle 2nd 2013, 3rd 2012, 1st “B Final” 2011

NBL highlights: Undefeated as individual; six-time NBL individual champion

Honors: Two-time Pacific Swimming Outstanding Swimmer; Three times selected for North American Challenge Cup; All-Empire Swimmer of the Year 2012 and All-Empire 2011, 2013

Next: University of Arizona on athletic scholarship

Montgomery vs. Cardinal Newman swimming
Friday, April 11,  5:15 p.m.
Santa Rosa Junior College

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Speed is a captivating force and freestylers are the sprinters of the pool.

Jenna Bauer is the Empire’s all-time best in the most demanding distances. Setting records the past two seasons, the Montgomery senior seeks section titles to cap a prep career already highlighted with an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona.

“I’ve come very close. Definitely my No. 1 goal is to win North Coast Section,” Bauer said. “I’ve just got to keep up all the hard work.”

Training and racing all but two weeks a year is the expectation for national-level swimmers. Bauer has embraced the regimen since first competing at age 8 with the Santa Rosa Neptunes club swim team.

Spring is the time for swimming at the high school level. Next for Bauer is today’s meet with North Bay League rival Cardinal Newman.

See more photos of Bauer here

The season culminates with the NCS championships in mid-May. Bauer has two seconds, a third and a pair of fourth places in her top races — the 200 and 500 Freestyle — and could capture titles with even faster times.

“The challenge is to figure out how to keep going, how to keep the fire burning strong,” said Neptunes head coach Dan Greaves. “She always was a bulldog in the water. Now she’s learned the art of swimming.”

Always among the most powerful in the pool, Bauer exhibited a passion for competitive swimming from her first races.

“I’ve just always loved swimming. The sport is so awesome,” she said. “I just love getting in and racing.”

One of the youngest ever to join the Neptunes senior elite group, Bauer has competed with the nation’s top young swimmers. She is a two-time Pacific Swimming Outstanding Swimmer, and has been selected for the North American Challenge Cup three times.

Bauer is also a three-time All-Empire selection and was named Swimmer of the Year in 2012.

A critical component in her success from the start has been a competitive calm.

“There’s no pressure. I just want to get in there and swim fast,” she said.

A short memory following races when her speeds are off serves Bauer well.

“If I have a bad race, I think to myself I just have to move on,” she said. “It’s a learning experience for me. I use those to improve on my next races.”

Keeping swimming fun makes Bauer that much easier to coach.

“We’ve been at some meets where she’s not had the best swims in her life and she just gets over it. She’s got a really good sense of how to let stuff go,” Greaves said.

The same approach keeps training fun and challenging.

“She comes in every day with a fresh take,” Greaves said.

Competitive practices help Bauer hone her technique as she seeks to squeeze seconds preparing for major meets.

“I love to train. Swimming with my teammates makes it easier. We definitely push each other,” Bauer said.

Swimming with the Neptunes is a year-round commitment that prepares the Empire’s top swimmers for high school section championships. The NCS meet ranks among California’s and the nation’s toughest prep competitions.

Finishing among the section’s best since her freshman season, Bauer has continued to lower times. While those gains are slight given very fast early marks, Bauer continues pushing.

In the freestyle events, for instance, Bauer continues working on body positioning. Clean lines help her move through the water more efficiently.

The backstroke has become a strength for Bauer.

Improved kicking underwater makes for faster starts and swifter turns.

“She’s put a lot of time into the mental craft of how to move through the water. That takes better technique,” Greaves said. “She’s getting way more consistent in laying down good times.”

Finding more speed is important for Bauer not only for this season but in the college rankings. Going faster at sections and in national summer meets should set her up for elite competition with Arizona in the Pac-12.

“It’s harder to drop times now,” she said.

“But I know I have so much ahead of me. It makes me want to do better. It’s a ton of motivation.”

Arizona was Bauer’s choice after meeting coaches and swimmers on the campus in Tucson. Bauer also made official recruiting visits to Cal, Texas and Michigan.

Following other Neptunes greats into the Pac-12 has Bauer aiming to enjoy success similar to older peers including Maya DiRado, one of Stanford’s best, and Amanda Sims, the former Cal standout.

“Jenna is probably one of the top three or four female athletes we’ve ever had,” Greaves said. “She’s a hard worker. She just gives it her all every single time. But at the end of the day it’s just swimming.

“Jenna keeps it fun and fresh every day.”

With the dream of swimming in college soon to be reality, Bauer is shooting higher, too.

“The Olympics is my all-time goal since I was a little girl growing up,” she said. “We’ll see how that goes. It’s exciting.”

Michael Coit can be reached at Mike.Coit@pressdemocrat.com.

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