CHILDERSBURG -- Jailah Swain signed a letter-of-intent to run track at West Alabama on Monday in the cafe at Childersburg High School.
Swain will run the 400-meter hurdles at West Alabama.
“It was a hard decision to make,” Swain said. “My top choices were Troy and West Alabama. I was just (determining my choice) on how the community was around there and the coach is … she is really nice. She is just like (Childersburg coach Evelyn Reeves), so that made me think, ‘Yeah, this is the school that I am going to.’
“I am pretty excited. I haven't done the 400 hurdles, so that’s a big jump. We are going to see how that goes.”
The small-town feel of Livingston also played a major role in Swain’s decision to choose West Alabama. Swain said when she went on her visit, she felt like she was at home.
“They kept emailing me,” Swain said. “My dad told me to write down a list of colleges from my top choice all the way down to my least favorite.
“I did that, and we went to go visit them. I stay in Kymulga; it is a little country town, so when I went to West Alabama, it was the exact same. It was cows and trees. I was so comfortable there.
“Troy has always been my dream school, but West Alabama offered more money, and that caught me.”
Reeves was thrilled her sprinter/hurdler will have an opportunity to get a good education while doing what she loves.
“It is a very exciting day for her, and it is also for me as a coach,” Reeves said. “The University of West Alabama had a chance to look at Jailah and see her potential and see how great of an athlete that she is.
“She works hard, she takes corrective criticism very well. She is always wanting to improve. She is a great team player and she is an awesome leader. They are truly getting a great athlete.”
Swain is a three-sport star at Childersburg: volleyball, basketball and track. On the basketball court, she was selected honorable mention all-state in Class 4A. She averaged 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and recorded 101 steals as a senior. She played a major role in leading Childersburg (33-2) to its first Final Four appearance.
Swain had several offers in basketball, but she felt West Alabama was a better opportunity for her.
“That’s what really took me so long to make my final decision, but I had more offers in track,” Swain said. “Basketball, my offers where from JUCO, and that was not the track that I was trying to go.”
Swain competes in the 100 and 400, as well as the 300 hurdles and the 4x100 relay.
Swain’s personal bests include a 12.55 in the 100, a 26.77 in the 200 and a 57.52 in the 400. Her personal record in the 300 hurdles is 47.48. A 50.48 split in the outdoor 4x400 is also a personal best.
In the final two meets of the season, Swain said she is working on dropping her time in the 300 hurdles leading up to the state meet in May.
“I really want to get my times down,” she said. “That's the main focus right now. I am trying to get down to a 45. I just want to win a state championship; that would be a good compliment in my graduating year.
“The girl that's in first place in the state is at 45. I know if I can get down to a 45, it will be easier to do that at state because I’ll know how to adjust my time.”
Terrance Wilson has trained some of the best track athletes from Talladega County over the last several years, including Missouri freshman standout and Sylacauga native Morgan O’Neal. Wilson lauds Swain’s drive to get better every day that she steps on the track.
“Jailah, she was a natural,” Wilson said. “I have known her for a long time, but I actually connected with her when she was a freshman. I saw the talent that she had in hurdles. She has a good work ethic, she will come out and train. I rarely heard her complain.
“Sometimes she would be there before I would get there. She was ready to set up the hurdles and set up the equipment. If she puts in the same time in college, she will have a very successful college career.”
Swain is grateful for everyone who played a role in making her dream a reality.
“I would like to thank my coaches: Coach Reeves and Coach Terrance,” she said. “I would like to thank my parents for pushing me to do what I do now. I would like to thank my family for supporting me. I would like to thank my basketball coach, Coach (Gavin) King. I would like to thank all of them. I am kind of sad to leave them.”