Freshman Aqua Jag James Xiao is becoming an integral part of the Cedar Shoals swim team. Xiao qualified for state in 8th grade and in his first race of the season, he placed third and seventh place, the highest on the Aqua Jags team.
Xiao first developed his love for swimming at eight years old when he began swimming competitively for the Athens Bulldog Swimming Club. He practices every day with his swim club apart from the Cedar Shoals swim team.
Head Swim Coach Mrs. Melissa Basel was concerned about Xiao practicing with the Cedar Shoals team.
“James wants to be an excellent swimmer, but sometimes he pushes himself past his limit and that can cause injuries. He suffered some injuries before because of over practicing. James wanted to practice with both teams, but we want him to respect his limits,” said Basel.
Xiao has continued to perform despite dealing with a recurring shoulder injury.
“I’ve been injured since I was 12 now. It’s been hard on my shoulders. Sometimes I won’t be able to practice with my team and I can’t do some events that I used to be able to do,” said Xiao.
Xiao still has high ambitions and is determined to continue working hard regardless of his injury, focusing on his endurance.
“Watching people on TV swim at the Olympics really made me want to swim with them and it motivated me a lot,” Xiao said.
Xiao has a personal record of 22.4 seconds on the 50-yard freestyle, a competitive time, especially for a Freshman swimmer. That isn’t just a lucky race. At the 7th Annual Atlanta Kickoff Classic, Xiao had 2 state qualifying times of 2:08.58 in the 200 yards Individual Medley and 57.09 in the 100-yard backstroke.
Despite being a high scoring swimmer for the Cedar Shoals swim team Xiao has another impact on the team.
“James really motivates the team because they see his success in the water and they want that as well. James is a really big asset to the team and he’s an inspiration to all of them,” said Basel