Glasses perched atop his head, Fair Haven Borough Councilman Eric Jaeger settled into his seat on the dais and looked over his meeting paperwork.
It was back to ordinary borough business for him for the first time since his son Connor had accomplished the extraordinary — becoming an Olympian swimmer.
A 2010 graduate of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, the 21-year-old Michigan University upcoming junior secured his spot on the Olympics’ Team USA when he came in second in the 1,500 meter freestyle swim event on July 2.
It was a moment the modestly proud dad described as a family state of mayhem-satiated shock.
“Oh, we’re quite a boisterous bunch at these things; but we were in a state of shock with that first reaction to just jump up and down and scream a lot,” Jaeger said as person after person stopped outside of the meeting to congratulate him. “I remember seeing Connor look up and point to us — at least I think he was pointing to us. Watch, we’ll find out later he was pointing to some guy next to us.”
Eric Jaeger and his wife, and beaming mom, Bernadette, along with Connor’s sister comprised the family bunch in the stands at that moment in Olympic and family history.
“He’s the youngest on the men’s team, you know,” Eric Jaeger added. “Connor has always been a swimmer who never fails you. He always rises to the occasion. We expected him to do well. Of course, we absolutely knew and had every confidence that he could do it. But the reality of it — hearing 'second' hit so fast and hard like a slow motion shock wave while it was all happening so quickly around us. We were jumping up and down and cheering like crazy as it was still sinking in. He just exceeded any normal expectation this time.”
That was at the Olympic Trials in Nebraska. The family left Connor to his training when they, still reeling from the stun, came home under the radar the next day.
They have, however, kept in close touch. Last week Connor moved from Nebraska to the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, TN, for training. Then on Saturday, he and the team moved on Vichy, France.
“He says he feels like a freshman — it’s all new to him,” Eric said. “It’s very interesting to note, too, that 25 percent of the team USA has ties to the University of Michigan (Connor’s college).”
Eric Jaeger will be taking Patch on a weekly tour of Connor's Olympian journey through his and his family's eyes.
For now, "Connor is working very hard training and has no idea of just how much attention he has been getting back home," the Jaeger dad said. "He's a pretty modest guy who avoids being in the limelight, so he'd probably be taken aback a bit. But we're just so proud."