AJCC Member Spotlight: Jax Cole

Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am

When Jax Cole was looking for a pool to train in for her swim across the Catalina Channel, she decided that the Alpert Jewish Community Center would be perfect for her needs.  She went to Pre-K and Kindergarten at the AJCC circa 1983-84, so she was already connected to the Center.

Jax says she loves being a member here. “It’s convenient to where I live, and it’s a pleasant environment. There is usually a lot of space in the pool and the people are very friendly. There’s a great locker room, and I can lift weights and stretch anytime. I really wanted a place with clean locker rooms and a clean pool. The clean pool is so important it’s amazing how many places don’t have that.

And I love the feeling here. It brings back great memories of when I was growing up. If I have to belong someplace, I want it to be someplace that I can feel good about contributing to. I love how the AJCC gives back to the community and is so generous.”

Jax explains that she got the gift of swimming from her maternal grandfather: “He was a swimmer, and I’m named for him. I feel like his spirit is a part of me. He died June 14 a few years before I was born, and I was also born on June 14. My grandfather would regularly swim across the Rhine River, and when he needed to flee Nazi Germany, he swam across the river into France. He saw the Holocaust coming and urged his family to get out of there. After swimming across the Rhine, he then rode a bike across France, ran barefoot across the mountains to a seaport where he stowed away in a barrel on a ship to America. Once he was in the New York harbor, he dove overboard and swam to Ellis Island!” It’s clear that Jax has swimming in her blood.

Swimming to Catalina involves a lot more than just diving in and hoping for the best. There are people to help her at every step, from her coach, to the volunteers who feed her, to the official observers on the escort boat. “I am fortunate that I have a lot of support from friends, and that has helped a lot with the costs. My father is my doctor, one of my friends is my personal trainer, and my coach is from my Pomona-Pitzer swimming days—Penny Lee Dean, who still holds the record 40 years later for swimming the Catalina Channel.”

The swim starts at 11pm on October 7. “The distance of the swim from Doctor's Cove on Catalina Island to Terranea Cove in Palos Verdes is 21 miles,” Jax explains. The average successful attempt takes 11h 30 min. I will be very happy to simply complete the crossing successfully. Mother Nature has the first and last word, but my aim is to cross it in 9 hours or faster.”

Jax swims at the AJCC pool twice a week—each workout is 5000-6000 yards (200-250 laps)—and she is up to 41 miles of ocean swimming a week. If you see Jax working out at the pool, be sure to say hello and wish her luck!


Member Update:

In October, Around the J featured our very inspiring AJCC member Jax Cole, who was preparing to swim across the Catalina Channel. On the morning of October 8, she did just that, landing in Catalina with a time of 11 hours, 21 minutes. Jax  was escorted by a humpback whale and hundreds of dolphins, including two bottlenose who swam beside her for hours.

According to Jax, “those hours swimming through the night  and especially after dawn were the coldest, most challenging moments of my life thus far.” She says she will swim a long distance again but isn't yet ready to announce where. She will continue to keep up her training in the JCC pool. Congratulations, Jax!

Blog by Erika Silver Hillinger

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