Meet JaKai: A Young Swimmer Taking His Training to the Next Level
When Shayla, a mom of two boys from Maryland, named her oldest son JaKai, she might have had a sense that swimming would one day become a big part of their lives. Kai, means “sea” or “sea water” in Hawaiian and as her young son grew, so did his love of water.
Shayla fondly recalls snapping underwater photos of JaKai as an infant in the pool. “He had absolutely no fear of water,” she said.
At a waterpark at age two, JaKai continued to display his fearlessness around water, bravely gliding down the giant slides meant for children triple his age. “It was clear that he loved water but I wanted to make sure he would be safe,” said Shayla. “His courage around the waterslides drove me to investigate swimming lessons. He progressed quickly, and that was when one of his instructors suggested that he was ready for a team.”
At just eight years old, JaKai joined his first competitive swim team, a move that would further cement his passion for swimming.
When JaKai turned 13, Shayla wanted to help take his swim training to the next level. “He was keen to train, but I couldn’t do much more than take him to the pool and tell him to swim,” she said. That’s when she discovered Zygo. Shayla was also intrigued by the Zygo app and its library of swimming workouts narrated by expert swimming coaches.
JaKai tried the app for a two-week trial and loved it. He wanted to use it every single day. Today, he uses it at least five times a week. JaKai's first meet in January was the first one after using Zygo for his training, and his times dropped significantly.
Shayla said, "Zygo has been great to push him and motivate him. As adults, we can push ourselves through tough training or exercise because we understand the benefits of what we're doing. But he's a kid. If it's not fun, he won't do it. For JaKai, Zygo gives him motivation because he looks forward to the workouts with the coaches. He understands the concept of working hard, but that engagement has to be immediate for him to buy into it. Zygo captured his interest instantly."
JaKai's next goal is a collegiate meet in North Carolina at the end of the short course season. These meets are important because various college scouts attend to watch swimmers and get the good ones on their radar, even young ones like JaKai. “They're looking to see who might have potential,” said Shayla. “JaKai wants to swim competitively past his teenage years so he’s going to keep working hard with his team and Zygo.”
This coming summer, JaKai and his brother will participate in their first youth triathlon. Even if they don't pursue swimming forever, Shayla believes it's a future of health. "You can swim, you can run, and it doesn't have to be associated with a team. Nothing's wrong with team sports, but if you don't have a team, it’s important that you still have an activity you can do independently. My hope is that swimming and running will engage them for the rest of their lives."