It’s too bad that Richmond Hill High School does not sanction a swim team because, with senior Jordan East signing a letter of intent to swim at North Carolina’s Wingate University this past week, this marks the second week in a row that an RHHS student has been drafted into collegiate swimming.
Jordan, like fellow RHHS student Sara Baker the week before, instead turned to the Savannah Swim Team and the coaching skills of renowned swim coach Rick Benner.
This is Jordan’s first year in the area as she moved here in July from North Carolina when her father relocated to Gulfstream.
Jordan started swimming in the USA Swim Team at the age of nine which she maintained until her move here. She was also a star athlete on the Croatan High School Swim Team in her native state.
Jordan cites one of her biggest influences in swimming as USA coach Catherine Vogt. Vogt, who is now an assistant swim coach at the University of North Carolina, coached Jordan during her last two years in the state.
"Over the time that I coached her, she improved so much and gained a lot of confidence," Vogt said. "She is an extremely smart girl who has extreme desire. She is quiet and soft spoken, but really stands out in training and in the desire to be the best she can. She’s got a great family and I know that will continue to be better and better and better as her swimming career continues. I think the sky’s the limit for her."
In her current role at the Savannah Swim Team, Jordan is very complimentary of Brenner and the Savannah team. She said she has sensed an improvement in her swimming abilities since joining the team last year.
"Brenner’s techniques are second to none," said Jordan’s mother, Kim East. "He’s a solid motivator that drives the kids to be better. The kids love him and he pulls out the best in them."
It was Brenner that directed Jordan to Wingate, which has not only a strong swim team, but also a top notch health sciences program which could help Jordan in her goal to enter the pharmacy field.
"She practices twice a day while still maintaining a 3.7 gpa," said Kim. "She’s always been a hard worker and very dedicated toward her swimming and her studies. That’s pretty much her whole life: swimming and school, but that’s what she wants. She never procrastinates, is very organized and has always been focused on the direction her life is going."
"An example of that focus would be the goal she set to swim in college which she has now met by signing this letter here today," said her father, Ron East. "I know it was tough on her when we moved this past year, but she neither complained nor lost sight of her goals."
"When we lived in Greenville, she used to practice in the pool at Carolina University and also used to watch the college team during competitions," said Kim. "I believe she became inspired during that period, because she used to come home and say ‘I’m going to swim in college’."
Jordan visited numerous colleges while deciding where to further her education, but was most impressed with Wingate. In particular, she was struck by the sportsmanship of the team that she was faced with joining.
"When I visited, I observed the team worked as a whole," said Jordan. "It seemed like a big family unit where everyone cheered on each and worked together. That’s something that I look for in a team, and I definitely saw that in them. They are NCAA Division II and are second in their conference, which doesn’t hurt either."
"And Jordan is going to make them first," said Ron with a smile.
Jordan said she is currently focusing on swimming distance and has a goal to next year make it to the NCAA Division II B cuts, which is the division championship.
"She’s a hard worker and anyone that gets her is going to be proud to have her on their team," Vogt said. "I think she’s going to establish herself as a leader, and she will be able to encourage and help those around her to be better athletes."