'Jake is one of the best ever at ND'

Tom Batters
Jake Querciagrossa

When he was a freshman, Jake Querciagrossa broke a school record in just his second high school meet.

His coach, Shawn Ribordy, was not surprised.

“I knew that he was an extremely talented swimmer, even as a freshman,” Ribordy said. “We knew way back then that he would do some great things. Jake is one of the best ever at ND. He’s had a phenomenal career here.”

Querciagrossa, who is now a senior, holds five school records. He competed with the top swimmers in the country at Junior Nationals earlier this year, and he recently signed on to swim for the University of West Virginia, a nationally-renowned Division 1 program.

Ribordy said Querciagrossa clearly has “pure natural talent,” but his work ethic also sets him apart from most other swimmers his age.

“He swims harder in practice than most guys do in a meet,” Ribordy said. “The speed he is able to maintain in practice is amazing. He’s a great role model to the younger kids. They see how hard he works and how much he is in it for the long haul.”

Querciagrossa started swimming when he was five years old. He smiles when asked to share his early memories of the sport.

“The heater at Central was broke, so I was shivering,” he said. “I was so cold, I didn’t want to swim anymore.”

When he was 10 years old, he finished second in the state in his age group.

He would later add a few  more state medals, including last year’s medal (12th place) in the 500-freestyle at the state finals in Evanston.

This year, he said he is shooting for a top-three finish in the 500. It will be tough, but he has knocked four seconds off his previous best time.

“The competition is really intense,” he said. “To keep up, you have to do at least 16 hours of practice a week.”

He puts in at least 16 hours a week, and even though such a schedule “has its rough moments,” he enjoys it.

“If I wasn’t swimming, I wouldn’t be as good of a student and I wouldn’t enjoy life as much,” he said. “It’s my passion in life and I really enjoy it, even the hard practice time.”