Moraga Country Club swimmer holds winning spirit

A young Bay Area man on the Moraga Country Club Swim Team has some special challenges, but also holds extra-special courage and grit.
Monday, July 28, 2014
The Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda cities are known for churning out world-class swimmers including several Olympians. ABC7 News met one swimmer on the Moraga Country Club Swim Team who embodies the region's enthusiasm for swimming, even though he has never won a race.

Jack Zembsch, 12, knows he'll finish last in every race, but that doesn't keep him from swimming on one of the most competitive teams in the Lamorinda Valley.

"I don't really care about the other stuff, like the gold, bronze, silver... all that stuff, because I'm not as fast as the other kids. So I just focus on just trying to pop my time," Jack said.

Jack recently broke his time in the back stroke. In fact, he's been competing against himself since he was born with a rare form of dwarfism. His spine is so soft he needs metal rods placed in his back and every six months he has surgery to adjust them.

"I have a little less flexibility, I think... and a little less neck motion," Jack said.

Five mornings a week, Jack and the MCC Waves swim a grueling workout.

"He's in the water every day, and that inspires me and all my friends to get in the water and do the same thing," Waves swimmer Sophie Hein said.

And at every meet, Jack insists on getting out of the pool without assistance.

"Jack is a very driven kid, and I knew he could do it, deep down inside, but I had to let him fail too. I had to let him try and make mistakes and sink," Jack's mom Kim Zembsch said.

Eventually, he stayed afloat. His coaches helped him develop an unorthodox version of the free-style, backstroke, breast and fly.

"As far as rotation goes in certain strokes, it's better for Jack to have a little more head movement, where in most kids we wouldn't want them to move their heads around," Waves coach Sean Mason said.

Now the league championships are next and Jack will likely finish last as he does in each race, but that doesn't mean Jack's not a winner.
Related Topics:
sports competition swimming children hero Orinda Moraga Lafayette
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