“I push in my goggles one last time, clap my hands three times and take a deep breath, then I hit the cold water trying to earn the number one spot.”
“There’s nothing better than feeling accomplished with yourself.” This is the motivation that keeps Mary Saiz, a high school swimming champion, going.
Saiz, a senior at South High school, says her life outside of swimming is pretty ordinary, but during the season it’s exhilarating, fast paced and hard work.
This year she added a gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze medal at the 4A State Championships. In her four years of high school, Saiz has qualified for the state championship meet each year and has won 56 medals total.
Where did her path to excellence start?
“I was actually really scared of the water when I first started swimming but it’s grown to be something I can’t see myself living without,” Saiz said. “It’s my escape from reality.”
For Saiz, swimming has been a part of her life since she was little and she decided that she was going to commit to this lifestyle. When she was 10-years-old, it was agreed that she would take a dive into competitive swimming, but her and her family didn’t know that she would have come this far.
She would swim a lot when she was young, but now competitive swimming was going to be a different side of swimming for her to experience. The world of competitive swimming may seem intimidating, but Saiz took it head-on. It was very quick for this to prove to be addicting for her and she hasn’t been able to kick this habit ever since.
Besides the pressures of swimming, she also has to deal with being a teenage girl. She would like to go out and party, and she wants to hang out with her friends but she’s in love with swimming, and she has completely dedicated herself to it. There’s the whole high dating thing but as Mary says,
“I don’t have much time to do anything besides eat, sleep and swim,” she said.
Her day consisted of being a student and then it was off to the swimming pool once school was done for the day. This can take a toll on anyone, so she had to find a way to get her mind off of everything. She said that she would write down everything in a journal to get it out of her mind and this was her form of therapy. Good or bad, she just writes it down.
“It keeps me calm and not so stressed about everything going on around me,” Saiz said.
The path that has led her to this moment has been mainly impacted by her father. He has always been there for her through everything and she expressed that by explaining him as the one who has helped her out the most in her life.
When she was 9-years-old, her parents decided to move to Pueblo to give her and her sister more opportunities to excel at whatever they decided to do. Nine years later, the move proved to be instrumental in the opportunities that Saiz had throughout her swimming career.
Now, Saiz is only a few months away from graduation.
Other than the illness afflicting students today—senioritis—Saiz has been able to find a little bit of time to hang out with friends, but her eyes are set on her future. She has committed to the University of Utah and has already begun setting goals for herself.
“If I could swim my whole life, I would, but I’ll just see what happens after my college career and hopefully I’ll be at the Olympic trials in 2016.”
Mary would love to swim her whole life, but she has decided to also pursue a career in event planning but those are decisions for college.
“I love Pueblo, but of course it gets boring when you live some where long enough,” Saiz said. “I’m excited to go to Utah and experience new things.”
Saiz is excited and passionate about swimming, and she’s going to carry on this work ethic when she’s heads off to college.
Even though her location is going to change, her routine will continue to be the same leading up to a swim meet.
“When I have a big meet the next day I can hardly sleep, because that’s all I’ll think about,” she explained. “But whenever I wake up, I get some breakfast, get my stuff ready, then head to the pool.”
She’ll arrive to the school and pick up a meet program to look at, while she talks with a few friends. On goes her swimsuit and she’ll crack open the usual Gatorade to take a few gulps. This is when the pre-warm up will take place, then she’ll switch into her racing suit so she can get in her final warm up.
“When there’s 20 minutes left, I’ll put on my headphones and head over to the lineup,” Saiz said. “I usually stretch until there’s only a minute left, then I take off my headphones, pray and give myself a pep talk until the countdown begins.”
“I love being lined up and hearing them call my name,” she said. “The adrenaline is an amazing feeling. The best, in my opinion.”
by Felix Cordova