Rock Bridge swimmer sees strength in his stature

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | 6:53 p.m. CDT; updated 6:01 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 29, 2011
Rock Bridge swimmer Thomas Jamieson-Lucy takes a break during practice at Hickman High School on Tuesday afternoon. Every weekday he practices for two and half hours, "I am not as lanky as other swimmers, so it forces me to practice harder and to be more competitive," he said.

COLUMBIA— Thomas Jamieson-Lucy doesn’t look like the typical high school swimmer.

At only 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 135 pounds, Jamieson-Lucy isn’t as lanky as most swimmers, but his intangible qualities are what make him a great swimmer, according to Rock Bridge teammate senior Connor John.


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“He’s really strong,” John said. “His best swim is the butterfly, and that takes a lot of upper body strength. He’s also very committed to his swim. He’s always working on his stroke technique, and the combination of his strength and commitment makes him so good.”

Rock Bridge and Hickman swimming and diving coach Karen Steger said she has never coached a swimmer quite like Jamieson-Lucy.

“I’ve seen kids train hard, but nothing like him," she said. "From my experience, they always have days that they give up and say, ‘I can’t do it today.’ And Thomas just never does that. He has goals for what he wants to do, and he works hard to attain those.”

Jamieson-Lucy, a senior, has always been a determined, motivated swimmer. When he was just 4-years-old, he said he taught himself to swim by jumping in the pool and imitating what he saw the other swimmers doing.

In the summer of his junior year, Jamieson-Lucy broke his arm and was unable to practice with his team for three months, but he worked hard once he had his cast removed and qualified for state in the 100-yard butterfly later that year. This July at the Show-Me State Games, he finished fifth overall in the triathlon and first in his age group.

This year, he has already set personal best times in the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard freestyle, the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle, the 500-yard freestyle and also had a third-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly this past weekend at the DeSmet Invite in St. Louis.

His work ethic is why Steger has given him the nickname "Thomas the Tank."

“Someone called him a secret weapon one day, and I said that he was like a tank,” Steger said. “He’s not very tall, so you wouldn’t think that he would have the power and the speed that he does, but I think it's because he works so hard, and you don’t expect it out of him.”

Although many see his size as a drawback in the pool, Jamieson-Lucy doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t look at it as a disadvantage," he said. "I think that I can be on an even plane as everyone else, even if that means I have to put in more work than everyone else.”

But he does use his size as motivation.

“I’ve always been shorter than everyone else," Jamieson-Lucy said. "Just because everyone else has been taller, I’ve felt like I had to work harder to keep up with those swimmers.”

Jamieson-Lucy’s mental toughness and willpower have allowed him to gain respect not only among his teammates and coaches but also from his father, Matt Lucy.

“Thomas has got this uncanny ability to perform really well when he needs to,” Lucy said. “You just have to respect him as an athlete. That’s what he earns through the way he competes. He may not be the fastest kid on the team, but he’s the most respected athlete on the team. I really respect him."

As a senior, Jamieson-Lucy plans on ending his swimming career for Rock Bridge by setting a record that others who come after him can't help but notice.

“My goal for this whole year is to break the 100-yard butterfly," he said. "I’ve been swimming a long time at the Hickman pool, and I’ve always seen the record board up on the wall. It’s always been a goal of mine to have my name up there, even when I was younger. So to break the record and see my name on the board means a whole lot to me.”

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