The Eleanor Roosevelt High School senior swimmer Jennifer Clune of today looks different in the water than the one who won the 100-yard breaststroke as a freshman three years ago. But the sport of swimming is constantly evolving and the Washington College recruit has changed with it, she said.
“Breaststroke is definitely a lot more about the kick than other strokes, I’ve had to reconstruct my kick several times,” Clune said. “There are always new instructional videos as the stroke has evolved. The stroke itself has definitely changed. It’s annoying sometimes [to have to change] but sometimes it helps to make little tweaks.”
Clune’s dedication to being the best swimmer she possibly can is one of her many admirable traits, first-year Raiders coach Stacey Russell said. Another is her willingness to share that knowledge with others. Clune, who said that is actually her favorite part of swimming, coaches the 8-under group of the Greenbelt Municipal Prince-Mont Swim League team for which Russell is the coach. Going back to basics, Clune said, gives her an added perspective of her own swimming fundamentals.
“Swimming has just always been a fun sport for me, I just love how I feel in the water,” Clune said. “One of the things I love most about swimming is passing on knowledge to others to help others get better. It’s fun seeing how kids and fellow teammates actually use the stuff I give them, the helpful hints in races, and improve their times. ... Seeing little kids, where they make mistakes, helps me with my swimming if I make [any of the same] mistakes.”
It typically takes even the best talent a year or two to truly ascend to the top of the Prince George’s County and state high school swimming ranks while they are still growing into their bodies and adjusting to the rigors of varsity competition — high school meets are a change even for the year-round club swimmers. But Clune has been there since Day 1.
The results speak for themselves: Three consecutive 100-yard breaststroke county titles, two consecutive 100-yard breaststroke region titles and the Class 4A/3A South Region record in that event, three top six performances at the season-ending state meet, where most Prince George’s athletes struggle to match up to the national-caliber talent from neighboring Montgomery County.
Though primarily a breaststroker, Clune, who has also been an integral part of numerous champion relay squads, is not limited to that one event. She followed up last year’s first 200-yard individual medley county title with a record-setting win at the region meet and as a freshman and sophomore earned top five finishes in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events at counties and regionals
Clune, who has also been an integral part of numerous champion relay squads, is on pace to complete a four-year sweep of the county breaststroke title in February and defend her individual medley championship and every team-leading point she picks up this championship season will carry more weight than in years past.
Roosevelt’s girls have dominated county swimming with 14 consecutive county championships but the rest of the field has been gaining ground. Last year’s 58-point win over runner-up Charles H. Flowers was the Raiders’ smallest margin of victory by far since a 53-point win over Bowie in 2006. Though Roosevelt remains the favorite to win its 15th straight county title, the Raiders did lose three of their next highest individual scorers after Clune. But the senior captain said she is looking forward to a more exciting postseason. The increased competition will push Clune to produce her best performances, she added.
“Jennifer has the type of dedication toward the sport that is not seen by anyone, she just lives and breathes it,” Russell said. “She just gets the sport and she spreads that knowledge to those around her.”