DALLAS You’re not going to trip up Jolie-Rae Ford.
The star senior swimmer at Dallas High School isn’t going to let on even if you ask her about it.
But she has goals and desire, and she knows exactly how she’s going to reach them.
For a three-time state placer, she’s already accomplished a lot, and she wants to do more.
“It’s like she has a plan,” Dallas coach David Morelli said. “Some kids just have that. It’s innate. They know what they want to do and they know what they want to be and she’s always had that.
“She’s always wanted to be a swimmer. She’s hoping to swim for college and go on. She just does what it takes. The other thing is she’s a competitor.”
Long ago Ford established herself as one of the top swimmers in the state.
She has been to the 5A state meet in multiple events in each of her previous three years of high school.
Her best placing at state was fourth in the 500 free as a sophomore in 5:17.33, and she was sixth in the state in the 200 and 500 free last season.
But Ford doesn’t make a big deal about it.
“I’ve gone there since I was a freshman,” Ford said. “I really like the pool. I really like the environment. I have a lot of friends who go from other school that I swim with on club.
“There’s never been a lot of friends from my high school, but I’ve had a lot of friends from other high schools, so it’s always really fun for me because I swim with the other people that I hardly get to see.”
At every state club swimming meet, Ford swims in every freestyle event.
She swims every length from 50 meters to 1,650 meters.
It’s quite a load of races, but she’s one of the few who can handle it.
Ford is not just a distance swimmer by choice – she’s adept at most of the strokes – she is a distance swimmer by nature.
“I have always been very good at keeping a natural pace,” said Ford, who won the Mid-Willamette Conference district title in the 200 free as a sophomore. “I kind of have a natural pace clock in my head.
“I think it’s from all my years of swimming. Just one day I found out I was really good at distance, and it took a while for me to admit it, but I’m admitting it.”
It’s no surprise that Ford spends much of her time at the Dallas Aquatic Center.
She’s usually practicing with Dallas’ school team, the club team – the Blue Dolphins – or working at the Dallas Aquatic Center.
Rarely is a day when she’s not in a pool.
“I work here. I swim here. I go home. I read Harry Potter,” Ford said. “I’m pretty low key.”
When you look on the record boards at the Dallas Aquatic Center, her name dominates the board.
Only a few other girls even have their names up because her name so populates all the records.
“Because Jolie is a really fast swimmer,” said Dallas freshman Isaiah Dressel. “She’s been committed to swimming for a long time, and she’s put in a lot of effort.”
Ford has the desire, and ability, to compete in swimming at the college level, but has to make up her mind where she will swim.
“I’m not 100 percent sure where I want to go to college, but I know I want to go into physical therapy or pre med, and my plan is to use swimming to help me pay for college because I figure I’ll have a lot of student loans,” she said.
Ford is the one person who people can think of when they think of swimming at Dallas.
When Ford’s name is called after winning yet another race, people automatically know who she represents.
“She is the face of Dallas swimming because she has been doing it since 8, that’s 10 years,” Morelli said. “She’s the one that people look at and say that’s the swimmer in Dallas.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler
Greater Valley Conference
McKay: The Royal Scots have a promising swimmer in sophomore Connor Breyer, a district finalist as a freshman in the 200 IM.
McNary: The Celtics are a young team with promising swimmers like Harrison Vaughn.
North Salem: The Vikings don’t return any district meet scorers.
South Salem: The Saxons placed second in the conference last year and have the swimmers to compete for the championship including Tyler Cook, Parker Morris, Paul lomax, Daisuke Fitial, Maxwell Moeller and Kenneth Utter.
Sprague: The Olympians return junior Colby Evenson, a state placer in the 500 free and 200 IM last season.
West Salem: The Titans are led by senior Micah Masei, who has signed to compete at Hawaii and swam on the team’s state championship-winning relay team last year, and have a talented group of swimmers including Zac Carter, Ross McConnell, Sid Estes, Victor Werner and Cameron Kroeker and will be competitive in the team standings.
Also in the GVC: McMinnville has won the past two district championships and has the swimmers to make it three straight.
Mid-Willamette Conference: South Albany and Lebanon should contend for the district championship. Silverton has huge numbers and a young team including junior Jason Orr and could make noise this year.
4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 3: Salem Academy was the surprise district champion a year ago and has the swimmers to do it again including Wilson McLean, Caleb Warde, Davis McHugh, Elijah Leutwyler and Ian Schultz.
Greater Valley Conference
McKay: The Royal Scots didn’t have swimmer make it past the prelims of the district meet last season.
McNary: The Celtics have a star swimmer in junior Marissa Kuch, a state placer in each of the past two years and a young group who give the team promise.
North Salem: The Vikings have a promising young squad.
South Salem: The Saxons are the defending district champions and with swimmers like Anna Despain, Joanna Zuckerman, Jamie Zuckerman and Victoria Privalova will contend for the team title again.
Sprague: The Olympians have an emerging star in Isabelle Dolezal.
West Salem: With a team including senior Hannah Bodkin, who has signed to compete at Dixie State, headlines a deep team with swimmers like Miranda Davis, Brianna Otterstrom, Malia Masei, Corrine Northcutt, Ellie Dacar – and benefits from the transfer of Charis Duffus from Sprague – the Titans should compete for the district title.
Also in the GVC: McMinnville was a close second place in the GVC last year and will be one of the team favorites. Forest Grove has a young, but talented team and should be competitive.
Mid-Willamette Conference: A Crescent Valley team that placed fourth in the state a year ago returns all of its state meet scorers and will be tough to beat. Dallas has a strong swimmer in Jolie-Rae Ford.
4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 3: Sweet Home has been the dominant team in the conference and will continue to do so. Blanchet has a host of younger swimmers who should put the team in contention, as does Salem Academy.