By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
5:57 PM EST, February 7, 2013
St. Paul's senior Jordan Surhoff has been swimming almost as long as she can remember. The daughter of Orioles Hall of Famer B.J. Surhoff and former internationally ranked swimmer Polly (Winde) Surhoff, she has three older swimming siblings — Austin, a senior at Texas; Kendall, a freshman at North Carolina; and 20-year-old Mason, who is autistic and swims in the Special Olympics.
Surhoff, who turns 18 Saturday, put the perfect ending on her St. Paul's swimming career last weekend by winning two individual events in record time and anchoring two relays to victory as the Gators finished second in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.
In nearly 11 years with NBAC, she has been a Maryland state champion and has qualified for junior and senior nationals. She has a 3.0 GPA and has signed to swim at Texas.
How did you get started swimming?
My parents. My mom swam throughout her life and all of my siblings started swimming, so they just kind of threw me in the pool (laughs).
Did you like swimming right away?
No. It took a while for me to like it. When I was a younger I never liked going to practice, never liked doing any of it. I don't think I truly started loving it until maybe my sophomore year in high school. I did like it when I was like 10 because it was easy, it was fun and there wasn't all the pressure and the times. It got to be too much. Then I started to realize it wasn't about that, it was just for fun. I just took it the wrong way when I was younger.
As the youngest in such a sports-minded family, was there ever pressure on you to swim?
Never from them. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I always felt like they were pressuring me, but they never were. My parents are open to anything. I'm really lucky to have them. They always told me to keep going, but they would have been OK if I quit. They just want me to be happy.
What did you enjoy about swimming for St. Paul's?
The team. It was not about winning. It was great to win, but the girls and the bonds I've made, it's definitely not like my club team at all. All these girls were coming in with not a lot of experience and I guess they kind of looked up to me in a way. It felt really good. I just really enjoyed the team aspect of it.
What's been your best performance in all your years of swimming?
Last year, I was training to get the trial cut (a time low enough to qualifiy for the Olympic trials). I was focusing so hard on getting it. That was my ultimate goal that year. I tried it at multiple meets, didn't get it, didn't get to go. I was really upset. Then at one of our summer meets, I was in the 100 breaststroke, got the trial cut. Even though it was after [the Olympic trials], it was a great feeling. It felt like finally all the hard work had paid off. I think it was because I took the pressure off myself and just swam.
What's your ultimate goal in swimming?
That's a good question. Just to love the sport and continue to get better. I think next year is going to be a fun experience with the whole team aspect and just being involved in the team. I would hope to win the national championship. That would be really cool. I'm not really sure what my utimate goal is other than to keep going and just be happy in the sport.
With a sibling at each school, why did you decide to go to Texas over North Carolina?
It came down to those two, but I don't think my decision really had to do with my siblings. Carol (Capitani), who's going to be my coach next year, the chemistry we had was great, the feeling I got when I went there. I love Austin, the city, the girls, the team aspect of it. They're such a close-knit team. I really loved that. Plus my brother will be there, because he's doing a fifth year.
What do you plan to major in?
I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think special education. My brother has a huge impact on that and then also I'm co-president of SFDA, which is Students for Disability Awareness. It's a club we have here just trying to make people aware and be kind of respectful of others. But, mostly my brother. He's my biggest fan.
Your parents have been very active in spreading awareness about autism. How important is it to you to carry that on?
It's very close to my heart. My whole senior speech was about trying to get people to think about how they say things and how it affects not just the people who have the disability, but the families that are involved as well. And I enjoy participating in my parents' organization, Pathfinders for Autism, as well.
What's your most prized possession and why?
I don't think there's a time I'm without my iPod. Music is definitely one of those things that I need. For any mood you're in, you can just have that one song that can change you. I listen to it before races, listen to it in the car. I just love my iPod, always have to have it.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My dad gives the best advice. He always just tells all of my siblings to not let your success change who you are. He definitely keeps us grounded.
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