John “Jack” Lane, who swims an average of 30 hours a week, said that to stay afloat in school he squeezes work into any break he has throughout the day even if it is only during a five-minute rest at swim practice.
Lane, a senior at Lakeside High School, said that these time management skills are among the things that helped him get the recognition of being a Presidential Scholar semi-finalist. Without these skills, he said, he wouldn’t have made a 2260 on the SAT or maintained a 4.17 grade point average.
Lane is an All American swimmer who qualified for participation in the 2012 Olympic Trials. He also holds four Georgia state individual gold medals, qualified for the USA national youth swim team and holds a Georgia state record in the 100 meter butterfly.
He said that a lot of the things he has learned as a swimmer translate to the academic field, such as being able to focus on one thing at a time.
“I call it focus but I guess it’s compartmentalizing your life. If you have something that’s bothering you, you just have to put it away to get stuff done and think about it later,” Lane said.
The Presidential Scholar Program recognizes up to 141 students throughout the United States each year who have scored exceptionally well on college entrance exams. The application for the program is by invitation only and there is no monetary reward; it is strictly a recognition program.
“Part of the application process was nominating a teacher who had been one of the most influential teachers for you and to write an essay about why you chose them,” Lane said.
Lane decided to choose his AP literature teacher Gary Saltmarsh, whom he said helped him learn to enjoy writing. Lane, who admitted he is more interested in math and science rather than liberal arts, said that Saltmarsh made writing exciting for him and helped him appreciate literary analysis.
“I always thought that the analytical stuff was a little bogus, quite frankly, but he showed me that there is a method to the madness for some of those classics that are out there,” Lane said.
Lakeside High also had two National Merit Scholars this year; Charles S. Pennell and John Ewing both received scholarships of $2,500 from the program, which awards high academic achievement.
Principal Joseph Reed said that the school has had many years with two or more national scholars and that it provides lots of opportunities—such as athletics or the academic bowl—that students rush to take advantage of to challenge themselves. In fact, both Lane and Ewing are athletes who are also in the top of their class.
“Both Lane and Ewing achieved success in sports requiring individual effort and self-discipline and those efforts translate well to academic success. Outstanding students always do more than a teacher expects. They also determine their own educational focus,” Reed said.
Lane, like Reed, said that “at the risk of sounding arrogant,” he thought the person who pushed him the most to get to where he is today was himself.
“My parents, they supported me but they never pushed me to go swim or get really good grades. I’d say the coaches that I have are pretty similar; they’re there to support you and they want you to fulfill the goals you set for yourself,” Lane said.
Lane will be going to Stanford in the fall on a partial scholarship and, although he sometimes tells people that he wants to go into medicine, he said he is not exactly sure what he wants to do.
“Medicine is something that I would definitely enjoy but I could see myself changing my mind. I just really want to go and explore and see what I like while I’m there,” Lane said.