By John Philip Wyllie
Voted its 2004 Freshman Swimmer of the Year, Sasha Beltran made an immediate impact for the Bonita Vista Barons last season while leading the team to a Mesa League Swimming Banner. Having already turned some heads earlier this season at the Sundevil Invitational in Rancho Penasquitos, Beltran appears poised for another record setting campaign.
A year ago she set a school record in the 100 yard freestyle event with a sizzling 56.87. At the moment, she is second on the school’s all-time list in the 50 yard freestyle, but that record could fall to her as well. Her parents had no idea how talented she would become when they first enrolled her in swimming lessons.
“I started swimming when I was eight. My parents were concerned that I might drown, so they put me in swimming lessons. After I finished, the instructor offered me a position on his swim team. That was nine years ago and I have been swimming (competitively) ever since,” Beltran said.
“Sasha is a very accomplished year-round swimmer,” according to her coach Steve Wiggs. “She is predominantly a sprinter, but she does well in many events. She has set some big goals for herself and if she can stay healthy she should do very well. Southern California is a very competitive place when it comes to swimming, but Sasha should reach the CIF finals in her events (as a sophomore and junior) and hopes to win them as a senior.”
When she is not swimming for her high school, she is often representing Baja California in Mexico’s youth national competition. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants she is eligible for international competition on both sides of the border.
“When I was 14, I represented Baja California (for the first time) and I was the top swimmer (in her age group) from that state. I was also very successful when we traveled to Guadalajara for the nationals. Our team took third place. Both my younger sister Monique and I have competed there and it has been fun.”
What isn’t fun, is the hours of training that Beltran subjects herself to prepare for the competition.
“In a sport where you are inflicting pain upon yourself all the time it is hard to arrive here every day with a good attitude. But Sasha has an unbelievable amount of drive and I’d say she does that about 95% of the time,” Wiggs said.
“I think swimming is the most difficult sport that there is because you have to use every muscle in your body,”