By Sharon Robb
March 7, 2017—Four years ago Wyatt Jennessee started thinking about swimming in college.
“I honestly had just started swimming and I wasn’t that good,” admitted the South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer. “I didn’t know if it was an attainable goal.”
Four years later, Jennessee, 17, committed to swim at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama. The NCAA Division III program is a member of the Southern Athletic Association.
In February, the men’s program won its third consecutive SAA Championship with a record 1,013.5 points, 271 points ahead of runner-up Centre College. Plantation American Heritage alum Nico Medina, a freshman, was named SAA Newcomer of the Year after winning the 200 and 500 freestyles and 800 free relay.
Jennessee is set to graduate Archbishop McCarthy in May. He is following in the footsteps of another SOFLO swimmer, Matthew Gonzalez, who committed to Birmingham-Southern in 2012. Jennessee said Gonzalez was a great help with advice about the school and men’s swimming program, coached by Toby Wilcox.
“Matt went there and we started talking,” Jennessee said. “He got me in touch with the coach. I went on an official visit and loved it. It’s a good program and the academics are great. The campus is beautiful and the coach is great. He’s done great things up there. He talked to me how great the school was academically.”
Jennessee plans on majoring in Finance and minoring in Economics. He hopes one day to work with the FBI. In addition to focusing on his academics, he is excited to see how far he can get in college swimming after just scratching the surface in high school and club swimming.
Jennessee climbed his way up the ladder at SOFLO. He started out in Senior Development with Bianca Muniz, moved to Gold Group with Travis Lockie and is now working with head coach Chris Anderson with the national group.
Jennessee competes in the 100- and 200 backstroke events and 100 freestyle. He competed all four seasons in high school. His biggest accomplishment was splitting a 49.0 on his high school relay team at regionals. It was the first time he ever went under 50.
“I think I have a lot of potential to continue,” Jennessee. “I am motivated. I just started working in the weight room to get stronger.”
Jennessee, who played tennis and volleyball, was a late starter in swimming at age 12. His sister used to swim.
“I always liked the sport,” he said. “I was looking to do something new. I ended up really liking it.
“My progression happened fairly quickly,” said the 6-foot-2 Jennessee. “I worked with a lot of good coaches who helped me. I was always motivated.
“When I started in senior development I was okay. Everyone has those little lapses. I trained really hard and ended up being one of Coach Travis’ first kids to move up to Gold.
“I really love swimming,” Jennessee said. “You get out of it what you put into it. It’s not like other sports where sometimes you can slide. With swimming if you don’t try your hardest you’re not going to be good.
“I love SOFLO and my time there. I love all the coaches I had there. In college I plan on training as hard as I can. I would like to see how good I can get. I would love to make NCAAs.”
Jennessee is currently training for Senior Championships hosted by SOFLO. His goal is to make senior zones this summer before going off to college.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org