By James Kay
Coming off an impressive performance at the IHSA state finals in February, Lyons Township High School senior Jack Thorell didn't know if he was going to continue swimming competitively in college. However, after much consideration, Thorell has committed to St. Louis University, where he will study aviation.
"I wasn't sure until late-October [last year] if there was a possibility for me to keep swimming," said Thorell. "But then I visited SLU, met the coaches and the team and it seemed like a really great fit. St. Louis is a great city and, after my visit, I just liked the team so much more than the other teams I visited."
Even with interest from St. Louis University dating back to late last year, Thorell wanted to swim out the season before making a decision. He had an impressive senior year campaign that included a first-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (21.67 seconds) during the West Suburban Conference championships and third and fourth place finishes at state in the 50 free (20.61) and 100 free (45.42).
He also led the Lions to a sixth-place overall finish at state this year and was a part of the 200-yard freestyle relay team that placed first at state (1:22.70).
In the three years Thorell was on the team, LTHS placed in the top six in state. During his sophomore year at state, he was on the 200-yard medley relay team that finished second with a time of 1:31.24. He also placed 34th in the 50-yard free (21.84).
He improved mightily in his junior year in the 50 free, placing 11th in the state (21.13), and helped the 200-yard medley team garner first place honors at state.
"When I first started off in my career, I wasn't really that good," said Thorell. "But then I got to high school and I started getting better and I really enjoy working to improve. What impressed me about [SLU's] program is that the freshman coming into it leave their senior year dropping a second or improve during their time while they were there. So it's a great program."
After this season ended, Thorell was planning on making one more trip to St. Louis before the global COVID-19 pandemic hindered those plans. Despite that, he is confident in his decision and follows his father footsteps in studying aviation at SLU.
"Just getting a little bit of money to go down and swim is something I am super thankful for, because swimming isn't known for having big opportunities to swim and get money doing it," said Thorell. "I just feel blessed to be able to do that."