By John Philip Wyllie
Hilltop High School’s Eira Perez de la Torre had no great expectations at the beginning of the current swimming season. As a freshman competing against girls that were sometimes three years older, there was no reason to be overly confident. But with the season now winding down the Lancers freestyle sprint specialist remains undefeated.
Lancer coach, John Salts believes he knows the secret to her success.
“Eira is always the first one into the water and the last one out. She is always looking to improve and never sits on her time. And her times have been the fastest in our conference. At around 26 seconds, she is a full second faster than anyone in our conference in the 50 yard freestyle. And in a 50 yard sprint a second is an eternity.”
Perez de la Torre arrived at the Lancer pool already an accomplished swimmer. Although she was born in the South Bay, she spent several years living in Tijuana where she competed with the Marlins Swim Club and also represented Baja California in the annual national competition which was held in Monterrey.
Individually, she has made a name for herself as a 50 and 100 freestyle yard sprinter, but she competes on several relay teams as well.
“She swims as the anchor on all three relays, the 200 yard medley, the 200 yard freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay. Wherever we need the speed is where Eira goes. We have been fortunate at Hilltop to have had a few freshmen come in with incredible talent, but none of them have been as fast as Eira.
In addition to speed Perez de la Torre has experience.
“I was about six years old when my mom and dad decided that I should swim so they enrolled me in swimming in T.J. (with the Marlins Swim Club). I swam there until we moved here when I was in seventh grade. I just swim for fun. I try my best, but I get too nervous if I (worry about the competition). I don’t want to let people down.”
With her perfect record still intact heading into the post-season she hasn’t had to worry about that.
“(Going undefeated) has really been a surprise. I didn’t expect that it would happen this way. I get really nervous with everyone cheering for me, but it has been really fun.”
Salts is really high on his young, talented sprinter and he is thrilled that she will be a part of his team for the next three years.
“I have seen it in the past with some of our swimmers where their success has gone to their heads so one of things we are going to work on is keeping her rooted or grounded so that her success won’t (spoil her). With her work ethic I don’t think it will be a problem. Whether she has a coach on the deck giving her sets or she gets in the water with no one around she is going to work herself hard. (Her attitude) is a breath of fresh air and I have already seen it matriculate through to our other swimmers. She is definitely somebody that they look up to.”