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Off the Couch, Into the Pool!

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

"I call the couch!" - Jake Marcum, 2014

As I look back, this moment is probably one of the earliest memories I have of Jake Marcum. Jake and I were newly enrolled 8th graders at The McCallie School, an all boys private school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We had only one course together that year. It was 8th Grade Honors English with Mr. Jamieson. In the back of the classroom sat a couch that Jake would compete for each day of class. If Jake arrived first, he'd undoubtedly be there sprawling the entirety of his lanky body across the couch. I never really minded, but it was comical to see Jake try to make his way to the couch each day. As you might imagine, the other boys in the class simply weren't going to hand over the most comfortable seat in the room without a fight. During this year, Jake underwent a transformation and became the couch tyrant. He'd do whatever was necessary to make it to his precious couch. It never ceased to make me laugh. Looking back, sitting on the couch was probably safer for Jake anyways. Whenever Jake wasn't on the couch, he sat at his desk, with his feet propped up. Somehow each time he sat at his desk, he flipped his chair more times than I could count.

Pictured: Jake Marcum (2015)

Fast forward to senior year and Jake hadn't changed one bit. Jake was still the couch tyrant. He still propped his feet up on his desk, and he still flipped his chair over. Senior year, Jake and I had Psychology with Chaplain Deitrick. Ironically, this class actually contained a majority of the same students who were in Mr. Jamieson's Honors English class from 8th grade. It's funny because hardly anything had changed from 8th to 12th grade. Sure, we were more mature, and a bit taller, but we retained most of our earlier habits that identified us as the people we had become. Jake was always a couch tyrant, and he probably always will be.

If I were to guess, Jake is probably a swim tyrant, too. He's the type of person who won't succumb to competitors, no matter how bad they pressure him. In no time at all, I'm sure that Jake will rise to the top amongst his SEC competitors. My prediction is that once Jake reaches the top that it'll nearly be impossible to bring him down. Jake will surely claim his title as "King of the Hill." If any competitor tries to climb that hill, surely Jake will cast him back down. Nowadays, Jake's couch is a pool, a race, a medal stand. At this point in time, you can be assured that trying to pry Jake's lanky 6'4 frame from the medal stand is no simple task. If someone wants Jake's crown, they‘d better be prepared for a fight!

Introducing Jake

My name's Jake Marcum and I'm a swimmer at the University of Alabama. I just transferred from Indiana University this year. I am a psychology major on the pre-med track. Hopefully, I'm going to go to med school! When I transferred, I switched my major to psychology from exercise science.

From the BIG 10 to the SEC

In terms of my transfer, there were a lot of variables that went into it. Looking back, it didn't feel like I fit in very well at Indiana. I just didn't feel like I could be myself and I didn't necessarily enjoy the swimming or the training there. It just wasn't the right fit for me in that regard. You know, being from the south, I'm also just used to warmer weather and it was a huge adjustment for me up there since I'm not a big fan of the cold. And honestly, especially now, I wanted to be closer to home. There's a lot of uncertainty going on with Covid and I want to be somewhere closer to home where I can see my parents more often.

Transitioning from High School to College

The transition from high school to college - academic wise, it wasn't that difficult. Going to McCallie set me up really well for the classes in college. In terms of athletics, it was a huge adjustment. The training was much more intense, especially because everybody's working really hard day in and day out. I was training with Olympians, so that was kind of cool. But it was really difficult, you know? The weight room actually wasn't that hard for me to adjust to because my weight coach (Coach Henderson) at McCallie prepared us really well for a college style weight room. Swimming wise, it was really difficult, because you have an increase in both your intensity as well as the volume of your training. As a freshman, you don't have a lot of say in your training, which was really difficult for me because I'm somebody who needs lower volume. I found myself doing way too much volume for me and my body just broke down, so it was definitely difficult for me.

Why Alabama?

For me, one of the reasons I picked Alabama was because their head coach is a huge believer in lower volume. At this point, we actually haven't started training yet, so I don't know exactly what the training plan is exactly. But, I've been doing workouts that they've been sending me and it's really great for my body because the yardage and volume is lower than what I was doing.

Jake's Favorite Moment

My favorite meet was definitely our tri -meet with Iowa and Michigan last fall. That was definitely my favorite one just because it was my first home meet. It was cool seeing the crowd and stuff because you don't really expect a big crowd to be at a swim meet. I wasn't used to that at all. There was just a big crowd where the fans were going crazy and the parents' section was unreal. I think that was one of the coolest meets especially because we were supposed to lose to Michigan and we ended up winning. It was a men's only meet, too. So we saw all our friends from the women's team in the stands cheering for us. It was just an amazing experience!

Overcoming Nervousness Through Prayer

Richmond: As an athlete, there's always a lot of nerves right before a big race or competition. How do you overcome any nerves you might get?

Jake: For me, it's honestly a lot of prayer. My faith is something that's really important to me. And, you know, I pray behind the blocks every time before I get in the water. If you ever watch me swim, you'll see me take a knee on the blocks and it helps me calm down a lot. Also, I tend to find that my warm up routine is way different than a lot of people's. Many people will get in the water to warm up and whatnot, but I choose not to do that. I'll usually run around; do jumping jacks, push ups, or some sort of land workout to get my heart rate up, so I'll start to break a little sweat. That helps me calm down a little bit because I can get the jitters out without wasting too much energy. I also use a lot of deep breathing and stretching. After that, I just sit there with my headphones in and listen to some music. That allows me to just shut everything out. All the noise and everything else that's around me.

Jake (Lane 4) winning a national title! (2019)

Jake's Advice

"First of all, I would say the most important thing is to never take what you love for granted. Secondly, as an athlete you have to take ownership of what you're doing. You can't always rely on your parents to push you. . . My parents were always there to encourage me, but you have to take ownership and want it yourself. Pursue whatever you want and don't let someone live vicariously through you. . . At the end of the day, you should do what you love and fall in love with what you're doing."

Jake's Fun Fact

"Most people know that I'm a vegetarian, but something that a lot of people don't know is that I have an extra rib. . . Well, I had an extra rib. Now I have an equal amount of ribs because I got one removed." *laughs*

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