Spotlight: Jalyn Marks

Jalyn Marks ’16 is ready to compete for the swim team again.  Photo by Jae Eun Oh

Jalyn Marks ’16 is ready to compete for the swim team again.
Photo by Jae Eun Oh

After taking a break from swimming last year, Jalyn Marks ’16 is ready to come back for her last season. However, in addition to being a student-athlete, Marks manages to balance her work with a number of different Grinnell groups as well as work as a swim coach for the local Grinnell Tigersharks Swim Team. The S&B’s Jenny Chi ’17 sat down with her to discuss what she’s looking forward to this year.

How long have you been swimming and why do you like it?

I’ve been swimming since I was four years old … so 17 years … Let me tell you a quote that I kind of live by because I don’t know how else to approach this question. One of my coaches of my club team used to tell my group to “leave your problems off the pool deck,” so, I think … it’s a good way to take care of yourself.

How do you keep up with your academics while also being an athlete?

I’m probably not the best to ask for this question … In addition to being on the swim team, I’m the founder and co-leader of the Starving Artists creative writing club, I volunteer with Oxfam, I am a swim coach for the Grinnell Tigersharks, which is the local swim team, and I work mostly with the little kids, I am the co-founder and co-editor of Vantage Point, which is a student publication through SPARC [and] I have a chronic illness, which is a lot, so I guess I do stay pretty organized. I’m a writer so I always have a journal with me, I write everything down … in class I write down things that I even know already and that helps me stay focused, if somebody is talking to me and they tell me to look up something later, I always have something to put that information in so it’s not all in my head. I guess you can kind of parallel that to swimming, because when you’re swimming you’re only thinking about your technique and how high your heart rate should be. You’re supposed to keep your mind in between your own two lane lines.

How does it feel being in your last year at Grinnell?

It’s interesting because every year you’re coming back to pretty much the same situation. Like your classes might get a little harder, but your schedule is pretty much the same by the time you’re a senior. It’s a little conflicting at times because you kind of expect yourself to feel the same way about certain activities and people, even subjects, but each summer you kind of come back as a different person. But it’s exciting to look at prospective jobs after Grinnell.

What are you most excited for this swim season?

Swimming. I didn’t swim last year because I have neuropathic gastrointestinal dysmotility. I won’t be able to compete at the level I was my first and second year, but it’s kind of proving to myself that I can get back into the water and be strong.

Do you have any pre-game or post-game rituals?

I’m very serious, I get really quiet. I warm up a lot, which is weird to a lot of swimmers because you don’t want to get overtired, but for me … it helps me get into the right mindset to warm up a lot. 

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve thought about when you were swimming?

A lot of swimmers pee in the water, so I wonder who’s peeing. Because you don’t announce it to people … but when you’re hanging out at the wall in-between sets, I wonder who’s peed.

Best D-Hall meal?

See I have food restrictions, so it’s really boring. Pasta, no sauce, with salt. Just noodles and salt. If they have sweet potatoes it’s also good. No skin.

What’s your favorite Grinnell tradition?

Drag Show. I danced in it last year [to Work by Ciara and Get Outta Your Mind by Lil Jon]. I did it with two divers and a former swimmer.