Calvin Jacobs gets to the pool at 5:20 a.m. every weekday. He stretches for about 20 minutes and swims for just a little over an hour. Even on the three to four days he isn’t training with the masters team or the triathlon team, he puts in the hours on his own.
He started swimming as a master about 15 years ago. Now at 60, his willpower to keep going is only getting stronger. “Until my body tells me I can’t anymore, I will do it,” he said.
On Saturday, March 18, in the sixth round of the 200M individual medley at the Quebec Masters Cup, Jacobs broke a provincial record with a time of 2:35.81, beating the previous record holder, Detlev Grabs, who had a time of 2:37.96 in May 2022.
The event was part of a circuit of year-round meets leading up to provincial masters championship slated to begin in three weeks.
“I was actually surprised that I broke it because I didn’t expect it to,” said Jacobs of his new record. But, being among the more seasoned swimmers in the 60-64 age group, he said there’s often a chance to set new records.
On top of that, he also broke the 100M butterfly short course in January and 200M butterfly long course in February, which means he now holds three provincial records in his age group.
But Jacobs is no stranger to the sport. He’d been swimming on and off since childhood; he stopped at 16 and returned in his late 20s as a master for a couple years. When he took up swimming again in his mid-forties, he said the main motivator was his health, and he’s kept going ever since. “It keeps me well in my mind, and keeps my body in shape. So I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”
His abilities in the pool didn’t go unnoticed, and he quickly stood out among his peers.
“In no time he was able to do the national time, which is rare for somebody his age. It was pretty impressive what he did,” said his current trainer Eric Dubreuil, from L’Escouade Triathlon in St. Constant.
Although Durbreuil has been working with Jacobs only for a few months, the pair go way back. They met years ago at a high-level competition.
“That guy is something else – he’s gonna get you with distance. He works really, really hard … and he has a lot of endurance. It’s pretty fascinating,” said Durbreuil, crediting Jacobs’s accomplishments to dedication and skill.
Perfecting the swim style and building muscle are key elements to Dubreuil’s training. “I’m focusing on quality when we’re swimming.”
But aside from developing the physical attributes, the mental aspect is another central area he focuses on. That’s where he focuses on pushing the athletes’ limits. “Swimming is 80 percent all in your head…. There’s always a negative aspect that you’re going to have to work on. That’s the hard part,” he said.
Starting at an older age, for instance, could manifest itself as a considerable mental block, Dubreuil said. “You can accomplish a lot if you don’t think about that aspect,” he said. For Jacobs, that hadn’t been much of a concern since the incentive to swim was tied to maintaining his health.
“Maybe we have some swimmers in our community that have gifts. I would encourage our young people to look at swimming as a sport to get into,” said Jacobs.
Gearing up for the provincials, Jacobs will be keeping his usual morning routine: up at 4:45 a.m. and then off to the pool.