Perry junior Jaylene Karolus has been pulling double-duty each autumn of her high school career by competing for both the Jayette cross country and swimming teams.
On Friday she completed her school-best third consecutive appearance at the Class 3A State Cross Country Meet. Karolus crossed 64th overall in 20 minutes, 48.3 seconds.
This Saturday she will be joined by her six teammates as Perry competes in a regional swim meet in Johnston. The meet, sans spectators, will begin at 12 p.m.
Karolus has inked her name into the Perry school record book in the pool by resetting a record set in 1997 and another that had stood since 2000.
Her 25.83 second time in the 50 freestyle reset the old standard, set in 2000, by Christine Dowd. She had earlier this season established 57.28 as the new Jayette mark in the 100 free, taking down Janae Weiser’s record, which had stood since 1997.
“I am not real concerned with records,” Karolus admitted. “If I get one, great, but my goal in every sport is to do just the best I can and to keep pushing myself to make that better each year.”
Competing in two sports during the same season can certainly stress whatever bare free time a student has.
Take, for example, the Karolus schedule for Oct. 26 and 27. On Monday she was enduring a six-mile workout run after school with cross country head coach Ryan Marzen, with weight training following. That was then followed by swim practice under the guidance of veteran head coach Jean Dowd.
Tuesday morning had Karolus and Marzen running under the Dewey Field lights at 6:30 a.m., with a run to St. Patrick’s school and back and some sprint training afterward. Another school day (Karolus is an honor roll student) followed, with a trip to Carroll for a double-dual swim meet, during which she broke the school record in the 50 free while lowering her own mark in the 100 free. It was well into prime time before the Jayettes returned to Perry.
“It can be tough, but I am used to it, I guess,” Karolus said. “I really enjoy both sports and just want to do the best I can in both.”
Monday Karolus and a few other members of the swim team participated in a Lung Capacity Training drill. Swimmers are allowed to wear flippers, but are also in drag suits (extra clothing to add weight and restrict movement). The goal is to see how far a swimmer can travel underwater on one breath.
Karolus swam one 25-yard length, did an underwater spin turn, swam back 25 yards, performed a second spin turn and finally surfaced after another 10 or more yards. Two lengths, in drag gear, on one breath.
“I was impressed,” Dowd said. “But Jaylene is so competitive it didn’t surprise me.”
Karolus encouraged other students to participate in sports, noting the lessons learned and friendships created and strengthened made all the effort worthwhile.
“I can’t imagine not doing sports,” she said. “It was hard not having track (the spring sports being cancelled by COVID-19 concerns) so I was glad to see the fall sports were allowed.”
So, it is safe to say, were her coaches and teammates.