By John Philip Wyllie
Eastlake sophomore, Benjamin Garduno already owns the school’s 500 meter freestyle record and he has been winning consistently with his times in the 100 meter butterfly. But before the season is over he would like to see his Titan swim team capture a Mesa League title and see himself listed among the elite top eight 500 freestylers in the county at June’s annual CIF Championship Meet.
“Benjamin is a quiet leader and he is hilarious,” said his coach, Bryan Monzon. “He keeps the mood light when the practices are tough. We run a very challenging program here. It is similar to what you might find in college. He does the work, but always manages to have fun. He knows his role as a leader and he takes care of business. I tend to forget that he is only in tenth grade. He is one of the best male swimmers on our team, a team that is one of the best to come out the South Bay in the last 10 or 15 years.”
Having defeated perennial Mesa League champion Bonita Vista 96-81 last Thursday, the Titans are now in position to dethrone their archrivals for the first time in the school’s 15-year history. Garduno’s winning time of 57.20 in the 100 butterfly last Thursday helped to secure that long awaited victory.
“Benny is already just a few seconds off his best times from last year in the first couple of meets,” Monzon reported. “If that is telling us anything he should drop significant time at the Mesa League Championship and at the CIF competition. I believe he finished second or third last season in his events at the Mesa League Finals and this year he has a really good chance of winning there.”
Garduno is just grateful to have the opportunity. His life nearly came to a premature end seven years ago when his appendicitis was misdiagnosed. His appendix burst and developed into the sometimes fatal peritonitis.
“His doctors told us he could have died without immediate surgery. My wife called our priest and a prayer group came over and the sisters prayed with my wife,” Garduno’s father recalled. “They told us that the power of prayer would help Benny and it did.”
Garduno’s ability to endure pain, something that works in his favor when he is competing, may have led to his misdiagnosis in this case and it nearly killed him.
“When I am (competing) it can be really painful,” Garduno said. “So, I watch the guy next to me and see that he is also in pain. When you can hold on and beat him it is really (satisfying).”