As different as this year has been, at least one thing stayed the same.
West Forsyth senior Jack Aikins was simply dominant in his final trip to the Class 7A state meet in February, winning all four events and helping rewrite a pair of records in the relay.
Aikins, along with Brett Sasser, Griffin Egolf and Owen Holland set records in the 200 free and 400 free, while Aikins finished first individually in the 50 free by more than one second and in the 100 free by more than two seconds.
“It was a little bit different this year not getting to look up at my parents and stuff and see them cheering me on, but I know they were watching it on the TV and stuff, so it’s pretty much the same thing, just a little bit different,” Aikins said.
Aikins immediately received a text from his mother, who he said watched the live stream from the hotel, then met his parents for a celebration dinner.
Aikins traces the start of his swimming career to his family and said he still remembers his mother throwing him in the pool when he was younger.
“I just kind of got roped into it by my older sister,” Aikins said. “When I was growing up, that’s what they were always doing, so I just always figured when I get to be their age, I’m going to swim too. I just kind of started because I looked up to them a lot and I just really loved it.”
Aikins’ sisters – Caroline Aikins and Katherine Aikins – were instrumental in delivering Lambert’s four straight state championships from 2013-16.
Somewhere between learning to swim and helping rewrite the GHSA record book, Aikins fell in love with swimming.
More precisely, Aikins fell in love with accomplishing his goals.
“I think probably the first time is when I made the 2017 zone team, because that had been a goal of mine for forever,” Aikins said. “When I finally did it, I started to realize that I want to chase that feeling of accomplishing something that I’ve been looking forward to for such a long time.”
Aikins met another goal in November, when he signed to swim collegiately at the University of Virginia.
Next on the list is the 2021 Olympic Trials, which Aikins had actually qualified for back in June 2019, about nine months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event into this year.
Since then, he’s seen Olympic Trials cuts in the 50 free [22.95], 100 free [50.43], 100 back [54.59] and 200 back [2:02.01].
The Olympic Trials are scheduled for June 13-20 in Omaha, Nebraska, which will qualify the top two finishers in each event a spot in the Tokyo Games.