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Jackson's athleticism is even more apparent in the swimming pool. He works out only once a day during football season, so he and Duncan have devised a training schedule that consists almost entirely of breaststroke sets. Because of the unnatural movement of the legs in the whip kick, most breaststrokers try to protect their knees by swimming a variety of strokes in practice. But Jackson insists on working on his breaststroke exclusively.
So far he has had only one real problem combining the two sports. "In football, we learn to react to the movement of the offensive line, not to sound," he says. "It takes me halfway through the swimming season before I react to the gun. I hear the gun and I think, 'Well, it's time for me to go.' I've learned to watch the guys on either side of me and react to their movement."
Jackson is as modest as he is proficient. "All I ever wanted was a pair of U.S.A. sweats," he says. "I finally got them last summer on the Romania trip, and I was really proud of them. When I got back to UPS, I wore them to the gym to play basketball. I left the bottoms there, and when I went back later they were gone. I also got a huge red towel that said UNITED STATES SWIMMING TEAM. But it was so gaudy I couldn't bring myself to use it."
Jackson has become an inspiration to those around him. "The most important thing I hope I give people is the knowledge that the mind isn't limiting," he says. "I hope people realize how important it is to believe in yourself. I knew all along how good I could be, but nobody else did. So once I convinced someone to take a chance on me and open a door, I walked through it. And I showed everyone."
Jackson lives in a house on the edge of the campus, and it has become a focal point of student attention. The Bob Club meets there every Tuesday night at 11:30 for its sole official function—reruns of The Bob Newhart Show. "There are 50 stipulations to get into the club," says Moore, Jackson's best friend and roommate the past three years. "Number 1, you have to be named Bob. Number 2, you have to be incredibly handsome. Most people don't even meet the first two requirements." In fact, only Bob and Bob belong.
Nevertheless, some go to great lengths to try to get into the club. Witness what happened this Halloween when in an attempt to become members, Robb Powers and Chris Sollars, UPS freshmen and also breaststrokers, painted their hair orange, sewed two UPS football jerseys together, pasted a large 82 on the back and climbed inside.
"We went as Bob Jackson," says Powers. "Together, we're 305 pounds, and at that weight we think we can carry on the breaststroke/nose-guard tradition at UPS."
Sorry, guys. It probably would take at least three or four people to play Bob Jackson at UPS after he's gone.