OPHS’ Zander repays adoption with U.S. Air Force stint

By Randy Lefko
Posted 8/1/18

LOS ANGELES, CA – With three siblings all state level swimmers and college bound athletes, Orange Park High graduate Jena Zander, Class of 2011, joined the U.S. Air Force to honor her parents and …

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OPHS’ Zander repays adoption with U.S. Air Force stint

Posted

LOS ANGELES, CA – With three siblings all state level swimmers and college bound athletes, Orange Park High graduate Jena Zander, Class of 2011, joined the U.S. Army to honor her parents and America for allowing her adoption and citizenship to America.

“After being adopted from China when I was a baby, I realized I had been given so many opportunities to freely pursue anything I so desire,” said Zander, 23. “This is truly a great privilege, and I feel the duty to serve my country that I am indebted to and am honored to be a part of. My father was my first inspiration and he served in the US Army from 1972-1975.”

Zander, who finished second in the 50 freestyle in Class 2A as a senior and eighth in the 100 butterfly in 2011, attended Florida State University from 2012-2015 and graduated with two degrees; human resource management and management information systems. From FSU, Zander entered the business world as an information technician for a year.

“I attended Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL in August 2016,” said Zander, who stills swims but not competitively. “ I was Commander Zander for a month for my squadron. I commissioned as a second lieutenant on 28 Oct 2016. “

Zander, whose siblings included 2008 Class 3A 50 free gold medalist Katherine Zander, now married three years after college basketball stints at Oklahoma and Belmont University and is a physical therapist assistant; David Zander, Katherine’s twin, both 25, also a state swimmer in the butterfly who attended and swam at Emory University and is in New York as a investment banker associate. Oldest brother Jon is in Salem, OR as an IT network technician for the state of Oregon.

Zander remembered that swim practices with iconic swim coach Shawn Delifus, who passed away unexpectedly two years ago, were a bit more taxing than her military training.

“Swim practice with Coach Shawn was definitely worse,” said Zander. “Officer training school did train me to how operate under stressful environments.”

Currently stationed at Los Angeles AFB, Zander is working as an acquisition officer.

“I’m a program manager for the GPS III missions with SpaceX,” said Zander. “I’ll be pinning on first lieutenant in October this year.”

Zander got second in 2011 in the 50 free in 24.08 seconds with the winning time at 24.01. She was eighth in the 100 butterfly the same year and, in her previous three years, she was a part of numerous state relay teams for Orange Park.

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