POOLE swimmer Jacob Peters is relaxed and ready for the biggest race of his life says the person who knows him best – his mum.
Rachael Peters said the 20-year-old, who honed his talent at Poole Swimming Club, is unphased about being drawn against the US world champion Caeleb Dressel and German European title holder Marius Kusch in the eighth and final heat of the 100m butterfly at 12.01pm on Thursday lunchtime.
“He says ‘you are in it because you want to swim fast and race against the best’ so he’s really pleased he’s in that heat,” she said. “He’s loving it there, all the people he’s with are lovely and he just can’t to wait to get going.”
The former Haymoor Junior School in Poole pupil has been supported with three grants totalling almost £1,500 since 2017 from the Young and Talented Fund set up with Dorset Community Foundation by Dorset Lord Lieutenant Angus Campbell.
Mrs Peters said the grants had been a vital help for the family getting the Poole Swimming Club youngster to galas all over the country as he established himself as a rising star. “The grants were a huge help to us because it is so expensive when you have to drive to important meetings in Plymouth, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh,” said Mrs Peters.
“It is not just expensive for the swimmer but also for the family because when they are under 18 they have to have an adult with them and the coaches want them there a day before the meeting. Then there is the equipment to buy, it all mounts up.”
She and her husband Martin and Jacob’s younger brother David have kept in touch by FaceTime and WhatsApp since the 20-year-old arrived in Tokyo.
“He was in the training camp since he landed in Japan but he moved into the Olympic village on Monday and he’s settled in. He just wants to get on with the race now,” said Mrs Peters.
The grants were a huge help to us
The top 16 times from the heats will produce the semi-finalists, who race again on Friday and then the eight best from there will contest Saturday’s final. Jacob is ranked 22 out of the 59 swimmers vying for medals in the event but has been drawn in lane eight of his heat – the lane that produced a shock gold medal for Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui in the 400m freestyle on Sunday.
“Sometimes you are better off as an ‘outside smoker’ as they call them because people don’t expect you to be winning and also you are not often in the eyeline of those in the middle,” said Mrs Peters.
“Jacob just wants to see wants to swim a good time and execute a good race.”
Adam Peaty’s gold medal on Monday was a timely morale-booster for the squad. “It lifted them all because they swim for each other as well as themselves,” said Mrs Peters.
The family will keep phone contact to a minimum before Thursday. “We won’t speak to him too much as the race gets closer, we’ll probably speak to him the day before because we don’t want to add to his stress or anxiety,” she said.
“We want him to be enjoying his time there rather than just checking in with us all the time, as much as we want to hear from him and see how he’s doing.”
She will continue one pre-race ritual though. “Every morning before a competition we always ping him a message wishing him luck and telling him to have fun and go and smash it so we’ll do exactly the same on Thursday,” she said.
The BBC is not due to screen Thursday’s heat live, which has prompted a search around for channels to watch the race on. “We think it’ll be on Discovery+ or Eurosport so we’ll all be watching somehow,” said Mrs Peters. “We’re all so proud of him and we’ll have our fingers crossed.”
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “Jacob’s meteoric rise is a huge validation for our Young and Talented Fund and we share the pride of everyone in his family at the Poole Swimming Club. We’ll be rooting for him on Thursday.”
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