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The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Uncharted Waters

Her hands slice and feet pound against the water, propelling herself forward. She reaches the end, takes a quick breath of air, ducks and summersaults under water, rebounding off the wall in pursuit of her fellow swimmers. To the side of the pool stands Jen Christenson, arms folded, inspecting each girl’s form and grace.

Recruited by head swimming coach Bobby Patten, Christenson arrived around mid-November as the newest addition to the Hockaday swim team as assistant coach alongside Lynn Cornell in replacement of Victoria Barr.

“Victoria was really intimidating,” senior and swim captain Mary Frances said. “She’s now training the Navy Seals, so it’s like okay this lady was training me. Jen is not nearly as intimidating as Victoria was but she still gives us pretty hard workouts.”

The daughter of a marine, Christenson swam throughout her various high schools and continued to do so as a college student at Georgia Tech. She moved to Texas two years ago with her fiancée, who coaches lacrosse at the University of Dallas. After working for about 18 months with Patten at the Masters Club in Dallas as an assistant coach, Patten suggested she apply for the newly available coach position at Hockaday.

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“Victoria was very intense,” Cornell said. “She was a great coach in that she brought a lot of intensity to dry land. And Jen is just as great in that she was a college swimmer [too], but she knows the strokes so well and really breaks it down with the girls to improve on their strokes.”

Having started coaching as early as high school for a summer league team, Christenson said she has always enjoyed teaching people how to swim. Apparently camaraderie and team support are especially important to her, something that led her to profess a preference to teaching high school girls over adults.

“It’s more of a team atmosphere rather than just competing for the masters,” Christenson said.

For her plans for the upcoming year, Christenson hopes that every girl will achieve a personal best. She said that “to have everyone swim the fastest they’ve ever swam in their lives” would prove their hard work ethic, something she notices every day.

The variance in experience, ranging from novice to olympian, among the swimmers has Christenson excited about re-teaching the basics to the whole team. For her, these basics are where you see the most improvement with the beginners while still helping the more advanced swimmers perfect their technique.

The girls, too, seem excited about her arrival. Sophomore Kendall said, “she seems super nice. She was a really good swimmer, so she can teach us a lot and improve our technique.”

Christenson arrives simultaneously with a generous gift of new parkas that has the whole team excited. Irked with the continual hand-me-downs, the swimmers exuberantly welcomed the unused and furless cover-ups.

Kendall, suddenly energized, smiled as she pointed out the furless interior. “No fur sticks to your skin!” she exclaimed.

Mary Frances thought they “fit better and look much better and are generally more wonderful.”

Despite having been overlooked for new sweats for the basketball team last year and the continued absence of a bus for transportation, the girls are excited about their new coach and unspoiled parkas.

“Jen is a really good help for the swimmers who aren’t as strong as the club swimmers,” Mary Frances said. “She’s really going to help them improve a lot, so overall our team is going to be better.”

– Laura

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