How Hard is it to Swim?: A Story of How Hate Turned into Passion

The Texas Story Project.

Growing up during the 1980s, David A. Martinez Jr. was a very athletic kid. He started to play soccer at the age of 5 until he was 12. During his freshmen year in the early 1990s, at Thomas Jefferson High School, he was part of the football team.

It wasn’t until the end of the football season that his older sister, Amanda Martinez, convinced him to join the swimming team. At first, David hated swimming because of the thought of it being too easy, “How hard was it to get into the water? Just jump in.” However, he would soon learn that it was much harder than it appeared.

There was a rumor throughout the swimming team that anyone who joined swimming for the first time would throw up after practice. David, who never swam for a sport, was one person expected to throw up after practice. Practice consisted of non-stop laps in the pool, each lap 50 meters long. After 3 laps, David had to stop because he thought that he was going to throw up, but he never did. Once he got better, he continued to practice. Everyone expected David to not come back after the first practice, but he kept showing up. Swimming wasn’t as easy as people may make it out to be, but David didn’t give up.

Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. This was the same scenario for David. He improved to become a very fast swimmer, but he didn’t improve his endurance. He would soon also learn that having no endurance can mean failure. A month after his first practice, he had his first swim meet. During the 50-meter freestyle, David was the first person to reach across the pool. On the way back, he choked on water and was the last person to get out of the pool, “I will never forget that moment because the coach was laughing at me the whole time,” David comments.

Throughout his high school years, David got better at swimming and even learned how to play water polo and dive. Compared to swimming, David thought water polo was a lot easier, “It’s like playing soccer, but in the water,” and he already had spent about 7 years playing soccer. Out of the whole swimming team, the coach made David the goalie because he was a very rough and athletic kid. This meant that he wasn’t afraid to get hurt. Despite having been hit in the face with the water polo ball so many times, he thought it was worth it because the swimming team ended up winning the state competition 2 years in a row. As for diving, David was the only one who wanted to dive. He shared a diving coach with other high schools because he was the only diver on his team. David, being the kind of person to love challenges, would only attempt difficult dives. On a scale of 10, David would attempt 6.3 dives or higher while other competitors would attempt 3.0’s or lower. This always gave him an advantage because it meant that it didn’t matter how good the dive was performed, as long as it was performed then he would obtain a higher score than other competitors because of the difficulty. Even at state competitions, David would perform 2 flips while other competitors would perform one flip. However, he went to state competition only once because of financial problems.

Finally, the time came for David to graduate high school. He thought it was funny how at one point in his life, he hated swimming because of the thought of it being easy, but now he loved it because of the challenges it gave to him. He loved swimming so much that he even tried to fail his senior year of high school just to swim one more year with the swimming team. “I remember senior year, my English professor said that if I didn’t turn in my essay, then I wouldn’t graduate. I was so excited because I would be staying another year in high school to swim again, I even told my coach that I would be back next year. However, when the school posted the list of all the graduates, my name was on the list. Even though I didn’t turn in my essay, I somehow passed because of my other good grades in English.” That was the last time David would swim again competitively with the high school swimming team, but he would go on to be a life guard for the city of San Antonio for three years and for the next five years would rent a pool to play water polo with his high school swimming team.


Chloe Martinez is a freshman at St. Mary’s University studying Biology hoping to go to Medical school and become a pathologist. Currently, she spends most of her days focusing on school and working at the St. Mary’s Biology lab department, where she helps Biology professors set up lab. When she has free time, she devotes her time to extracurricular activities, such as the pre-medical society, K-POP dance club, and volunteering at the Methodist hospital.

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