Dreams are about to become a reality for BYU swimmer Jake Taylor, who qualified to compete in the Olympic trials in June 2016.
“This is the pinnacle of swimming, the only time swimming gets publicity,” Jake Taylor said. “You talk to any kid or swimmer and ask him his dream; it’s going to the Olympics. It’s the cream of the crop.”
Taylor qualified to participate in the Olympic trials for the 100-meter backstroke by putting up an impressive time of 54.60. He further qualified for the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2.00.74.
“Jake is a competitor,” BYU men’s swim Coach John Brooks said. “Having the experience he has is really important, and he will be ready.”
Taylor has been preparing for this moment since he first started swimming competitively at age eight. Despite coming from a family of nine siblings that excelled in fine arts, Taylor chose swimming.
“That was my niche, that was my thing,” Taylor said. “When you’re surrounded by so many siblings, you don’t want to be like your brother because everyone would say, ‘Oh he’s the best at singing and Jake he is an OK singer.’ But in sports I was the best in the family. That was my thing.”
Not only did Taylor find swimming as his area of expertise, but he also saw it as an opportunity to spend time with his dad. Then later, as he grew older, he began to find swimming as something that could strengthen him in the gospel.
“God gives us talents and there is always a purpose to those talents,” Taylor said. “I have had many opportunities to share the gospel with others and be a representative for BYU and the church, and any exposure is good exposure for the church.”
Taylor is giving BYU plenty of publicity as he continues to compete at national swim meets and attempts to lead the men’s team to a third consecutive conference title.
“The more successful we are the more people ask us questions about the church,” Brooks said. “Opportunities come every time they travel. And Jake has assisted with that.”
But with increased publicity comes an increase in pressure. Taylor begins his preparation months before an actual meet by focusing on the smallest of details in his stroke or turns.
Taylor still finds other methods outside the pool to keep calm and perform to his potential. Jake says his wife, Amanda, is his greatest influence.
“She is phenomenal. As a nurse she organizes my meals, she knows my nutrition, my weight and everything about me,” Taylor said. “Having her there is having to live up to an expectation. She has me on a pedestal.”
But Amanda Taylor says her husband finds other ways to handle the pressure.
“I know Jake stresses out before big meets, especially when those around him ask him how well he’s going to do or what he expects from his performance,” Amanda Taylor said. “But I also know that he puts his faith in God and doesn’t forget the man who gave him this talent. By keeping that in mind he understands that the best he can do will be enough for him and will be enough for his fan club.”
With continued support and strength from his swim coaches, teammates, and wife, Jake Taylor said looks forward to an exciting Olympic trials in 2016.