In his final season as a Northside Patriot, swimmer Jacob Abeyta came through time and time again.
Abeyta put together a string of strong meets on his way to his third trip to state in his third year at Northside. As a result, the senior was selected as the All-Bi-City Boys Swimmer of the Year.
“It’s been a really good year for Northside High School in general,” Abeyta said. “Our whole swim team has been really great. Some of my favorite memories were seeing other swimmers make their state cuts for their first time and getting to go to state for the first time.”
Abeyta was no stranger to the state meet at Georgia Tech, but several of his Patriot teammates couldn’t say the same. It made Abeyta’s final trip to the meet even more special than the ones preceding it since he could share the spotlight and fun with more friends that usual.
“In the past years, it’s been a little bit weird because you’ll have teams of guys and girls showing up that are 30- or 40-strong,” Abeyta said. “In the past years, we’ve had four or five people tops (qualify); this year we had I think eight or nine go to state. It was really cool walking into Georgia Tech’s swimming facilities with a whole group of guys that was bigger than the past.”
Abeyta entered his final season with the goal of not only improving himself, but helping the team as a whole get better. He took a conscious effort to push his teammates, specifically focusing on the relay team he was part of.
Those strides both personally and for others was on display in the area championships on Jan. 17. Not only did Abeyta win the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke, but Northside also won the 200 medley relay.
Abeyta’s efforts meant a return to the state meet. As enjoyable as knowing he’d get another chance to compete against the state’s best, he enjoyed watching his teammates clinch their spots even more.
“I remember when I first made state for high school,” Abeyta said. “I remember looking up at the scoreboard and being pretty pumped I was going to get to go. Knowing these guys I’ve been training with both from Northside’s swim team and (people from) other high schools I’ve swam with through the years has been really rewarding. I’m pretty proud of Northside’ swim team.”
Abeyta and the Patriots didn’t waste their opportunity at the state meet. He qualified for the finals of the 100 backstroke, while he and the rest of the relay team -- Christian Fontanez, Alex Andrade, Max Myers -- made it to the finals in the 200 relay and the 400 free relay.
Abeyta finished 10th in the 100 backstroke. The relay team took home 17th in the 200 and 19th in the 400.
While Abeyta prepares to attend either Navy or Air Force and likely swim for that academy’s team, he reflected on how much swimming has grown in Columbus. When he started out, he was turning laps in the local YMCA. Since then, the sport has mushroomed in the city, shown by the increasing number and strength of teams as well as the arrival of the Columbus Aquatic Center in 2013.
As swimming continues to blossom in the area, Abeyta will soon sign off with his next stop in Colorado Springs, Colo., or Annapolis, Md.
“I knew when I leave high school and go off to college, I want people to remember a few things about me,” Abeyta said. “Swimming is one of them, so I really wanted to leave something behind to remember. I would say we definitely did that, considering we made it to finals in both our boys relays and how our girls made state for the first time.”
Considering all he’s accomplished in his time at Northside, it’s safe to say his triumphs as a Patriot won’t be soon forgotten.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports