Dec. 5, 2011
Junior James Boretti will be the first to admit that the start of his distance swimming career was “nothing special,” but that’s not for the reason you’re expecting.
As a freshman, Boretti went into his high school season not knowing which event he would swim for Westford Academy. His coach, Caitlin Klick, decided to throw him in the 500-yard freestyle and he worked all season to prepare for the Dual County League Championships.
The day of the race, Boretti came down with the flu. Even though he was far from his best, he decided not to tell Klick because he wanted to swim. After all, he had been working to do so all season.
“I didn’t tell her before the race, and she just threw me in it anyway,” he said, with a laugh. “We needed someone to put in that so she decided that would be a good fit for me and ever since I’ve been swimming distance.”
Boretti fell just short of qualifying for the North Sectional Championship and he was disappointed with his performance because he hadn’t reached his goal.
“I was impressed with how well Jimmy had done despite how sick he was, but he was so upset that he hadn’t reached his goal,” Klick said. “This was my first lesson in Jimmy’s high expectations for himself and his determination to succeed. He had surpassed everyone’s goals but his own and this only made him hungry to improve even more.”
Boretti’s drive, competitiveness and willingness to do the little things to improve have been the main reasons behind his success at Boston College. Even though he may not have the physical gifts of his competitors, he’s able to best them time and time again.
“Jimmy once told me that his dad always reminds him that he may not be the tallest, strongest or even the fastest, but he can always be the hardest worker,” said Klick, who swam for BC, graduating in 2003. “That really stuck with me because that mentality is exactly what has gotten him to this level.”
The junior, who mainly swims distance freestyle and individual medleys, even added his name to BC’s record book at this year’s Terrier Invitational, where he broke John Maloy’s record in the 400 IM with a time of 3:56.17.
“The swimmer who had the record before was my mentor on the team,” Boretti said of Maloy, who graduated last year. “He was a really great influence for me, and it’s great we were doing the same events because it’s given me a lot of hard work and drive to chase after him.”
His desire to accomplish his goals and best Maloy has led Boretti to put in the time in the pool and in the weight room. Because he swims the individual medley, the natural freestyle swimmer had to pick up breaststroke and butterfly. Lifting has helped make breaststroke one of his better strokes by strengthening his legs, and, while he’ll admit butterfly is still his weakness, he has seen vast improvements in it as well.
“A lot of distance swimming is building up your endurance which is a lot of practice, so the more time you put in and the harder you work, especially in college anywhere you go, you get out of it what you put into it,” he explained.
Over the summer, Boretti continued working by training at the Patriot Swim Club with many of the people he swam with growing up. Besides the extra training, he says the best part of this arrangement was that he saw his old friends and learned from their experiences in college.
One friend who has greatly influenced his career is Matt Tynan, a freshman at Maryland. It was Tynan who convinced Boretti to swim year round with a club team affiliated with USA Swimming after his junior year of high school.
Even though Boretti admitted he was late to get involved in this type of program, he said that it, along with his friendship with Tynan, helped prepare him to swim at the collegiate level.
“[Matt] really got me to love the sport. He would push me, I’d push him,” Boretti said. “He convinced me to do the club team that he’d been doing for probably 10 years. I joined that and I saw a change instantly. I improved a lot.”
Boretti also didn’t know if he wanted to swim at the collegiate level. When it came time to choose a college, he had three choices: a school that didn’t have a Division I swim team, a school where he wouldn’t make the team and BC.
Because Klick swam at BC, she introduced Boretti to head coach Tom Groden. After taking a campus tour with Groden and Klick, he fell in love with the school and its swim team. His official visit, which took place on Halloween, sealed the deal because he was able to see “the spirit that this campus had” at a football game against Clemson.
“I decided swimming in college would be fun, and once I got here it kind of blossomed from there,” he said.
For Klick, sending her first swimmer to her alma mater was special, especially because it was Boretti.
“I was so excited for Jimmy when he decided to go to BC,” she said. “I had a great experience and loved the school and the team and I knew Jimmy would be an excellent fit. I’m proud that he is representing the school so well.”
In the end, Boretti has emerged as a leader and role model on the team because of his work ethic and dedication to the sport. All the time he puts in has contributed to his individual success and to the success of the team.
“I guess I’m one of the leaders on the team outside of the captains obviously,” he said. “I like to think I can get people motivated and can get the most out of people.”
Written by Jen Dobias