By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
Every day, Gabriel Jimenez, freshman, engineering, wakes up in the dimly lit hours of the morning. At 5 a.m., while most are sound asleep, Jimenez is up ready to start his training as a member of the University of Missouri-St. Louis men’s swim team.
At a young age, Jimenez’s father liked for his kids to be involved in something, whether it be playing an instrument or getting involved in a sport. “When I was six years old, I started swimming to gain the skill. But I never stopped,” Jimenez said. Now Jimenez holds three individual event wins in his first meet against Lindenwood, winning the 100 yard butterfly and 50 yard and 100 yard freestyles on October 15. He also won two other events, the 50 yard and 100 yard freestyle, against Maryville and William Jewell at a tri-meet held October 22.
Before UMSL, Jimenez grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, located in the Northwestern area of Mexico. Chihuahua has a population of 3,556,574 and is the largest state in Mexico. Reminiscing back on his club and training facilities in Chihuahua, Jimenez said, “It was pretty weird. Where I come from we don’t have these facilities. I train in a small club in my hometown.” Jimenez set himself apart from his family at a young age. Although his parents, Gabriel and Karina Jimenez, are both lawyers, Jimenez always pictured himself as an engineer, showing strong interest in math, physics, and science. “It was pretty weird for my parents for me showing something different at an earlier age,” Jimenez said.
When deciding on a college, Jimenez was looking for a mix that allowed him to purse both his passions. This led him to UMSL, who reinstated their men’s and women’s swimming teams in 2013. “I am a swimmer, ever since I was a little kid. When I was looking for a college, I was looking for a college in swimming also I was looking for a college in civil engineering. So I talked to the coach, I talked to some teachers, and I decided to come here,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez noticed in his first days of training that the team was hardworking and head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, Tomas Kuzvard, was very motivating and encouraging towards each athlete. “The coach is always there helping you. He doesn’t individualize, he focuses on everyone. Teammates [push] you to go harder. You don’t get tired of people or the coaches,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez continues to train hard. Being one of the smaller men on the team, Jimenez believes it is about training hard to continue his impressive performances. “In swimming, I’m a short guy, I don’t have a muscular body but it’s how you train and use what you have,” Jimenez said.
Not looking at his previous outing at Lindenwood as his best work, Jimenez said, “I feel comfortable for what I did for my team. I feel we did our best as a team this meet.”
Remaining humble, Jimenez would like to improve his sleep schedule and the time he spends on recreation, which can be difficult. Jimenez explains, “Sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard sometimes because you have these double sessions. You have to wake up earlier before your classes and do the same after lunch. I think it was harder in my hometown, because I had a harder schedule, less free hours. Here I live on campus, the pool is always on the end of the corner.”
Outside of swimming, Jimenez enjoys spending time with his teammates. Activities include going to Forest Park, the St. Louis Zoo, playing Frisbee, and hanging out at the dorm rooms at University Meadows. Jimenez also does a lot of volunteer work. He has previously volunteered at events such as LouFest.