Windsor’s Jake Eccleston drew on a plethora of inspirations in his rise to the highest of 4A boys swimming – Greeley Tribune
WINDSOR — Jake Eccleston is proving you can follow in some impressive footsteps and still carve your own path.
Just because he is doing things no other Windsor boys swimmer has done before doesn’t mean he is without some worthy idols after whom he models his ever-blossoming high school swim career.
Eccleston, 16, has drawn upon the examples set by his two older sisters, another former Wizards All-American and a fellow state champion at a rival school to craft a budding preps swimming career that may soon be difficult for anyone else to match.
Eccleston, a sophomore on Windsor’s swim team, won a pair of individual state titles during the Class 4A boys swimming and diving championships May 12-13 at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton.
He won the 200-yard individual medley in 1 minute, 49.46 seconds, well ahead of the runner-up, Cheyenne Mountain senior Max Roslin (1:55.03). He later won the 100 breaststroke in 55.04, beating out runner-up Dakota Kinder of Air Academy (57.02).
Both times met automatic All-American standards, and his time in the breaststroke was a new 4A state meet record.
Eccleston set the stage for his stellar finals performance with a strong effort in prelims on May 12. He finished first in both of those races, as well, recording a 1:52.87 in the IM and a 56.41 in the breaststroke.
During the finals, Eccleston was able to shave a couple seconds off his prelim times, motivated by the opportunity to win dual state titles and by a little pre-meet pep talk from his grandfather, Bill Woon.
“What really set up the day for great swims was when my grandpa pulled me aside and said, ‘Take no prisoners. Leave it out in the pool,’” Eccleston said. “That just put me in the mental state of, ‘This is my last high school swim meet of the season, so I’ve just got to leave it all in the pool.’”
Unsurprisingly, Eccleston comes from a highly supportive family that has helped foster the successful swim careers of him and his two older sisters: Jenna, who graduated from Windsor High School this month, and Erin, a 2018 Windsor graduate.
Erin and Jenna have been key role models for Jake throughout his up-and-coming swim career.
“They both did swimming, and they both really enjoyed it,” Eccleston said. “When I was little, I played basically every sport, and I always just kind of stick with swimming. I just really enjoyed the sport. My sisters really encouraged me a lot.”
Another major influence for Eccleston was actually one of the main figures that stood in between him and championship success a year ago, during Eccleston’s freshman season.
“In both of my events last year, there’s a guy named Baylor Lewis (a former Greeley West swimmer),” Eccleston said. “He beat me in both of my events. He’s always been a big motivator, because he also swam for Loveland Swim Club. So he’s always pushed me. And my drive this year was to beat his times.”
WINDSOR, CO – MAY 24: Windsor sophomore Jake Eccleston stands for a portrait at the pool at Windsor High School in Windsor May 24, 2022. Eccleston took home two state titles, in the 200m individual medley and the 100m breaststroke, at the 4A boys swimming and diving championships this spring. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)
Like Eccleston this season, Lewis won a pair of state titles a year ago with impressive times in the 100 IM (1:50.83) and the 100 breaststroke (55.46). Eccleston was third in both events that year.
Eccleston already owns five school records to go with his two state titles. He’s likely to continue to add more titles and records — perhaps even overall state records — in the next couple years.
Eccleston has never been too proud to lean on the experience and expertise of those that came before him.
He did so with Lewis during the time that both spent as members of the Loveland Swim Club.
He also did so while watching his oldest sister, Erin, compete at the high school level, as she teamed with another Windsor standout that accomplished many of the same things Jake is accomplishing now.
Though Jake is the first Wizards boys swimmer to achieve this level of success, Morgan Friesen was an All-American and multi-time state champion for the girls team before graduating from Windsor in 2017.
She even accomplished those feats in the same two events — the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke — in which Eccleston just won state titles and recorded All-American times.
Eccleston took notice of all of Friesen’s achievements and immediately began working feverishly in the pool to one day emulate that success.
“I never really got to train with her, but I’ve met her a few times — more than a few times,” Eccleston said of Friesen. “She’s a great person, and she’s a phenomenal swimmer. She’s a great inspiration.”
Eccleston would even like to ultimately study and compete at the same college as Friesen, the University of Louisville.
Eccleston can begin speaking with colleges next month, at which point he is free to verbally commit before he has to wait until his senior year to officially sign with a college.
Eccleston always adopts a team-first mentality within a sport that is sometimes mischaracterized as a mere individual sport. His talent in the pool is perhaps matched only by his selflessness and humility.
Still, as eager as Eccleston is to point to his many inspirations while discussing his own success, Eccleston’s coach — nine-year Wizards boys coach Trevor Timmons — isn’t shy about discussing Eccleston’s talent and impact in the pool.
And, make no mistake, even as Eccleston nods to all of those that have inspired him throughout the years, he is currently providing the same inspiration for all the young up-and-comers within Windsor’s program and throughout the local swim scene.
“I got to know (Eccleston) a little bit in middle school, and you could tell even in middle school that this kid is special, this kid could be something,” Timmons said. “Jake has that really good, special, unique touch, an interpersonal touch with the other team members. But then there’s his own personal drive to go to the club — two-a-days, sometimes — year round, and really work to get in the pool.
“You need some of that natural ability. But you also need to put in the effort, and Jake does that.”
Bobby Fernandez covers high school sports for the Greeley Tribune. Reach him at (970) 392-4478, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez.