When sophomore Kathy Barajas came to Pres, she couldn’t swim. Not even a little bit. She was scared of the water and didn’t feel confident in a bathing suit. She never dreamed that she would be swimming at the level that she is now, and she had no idea what an enormous impact swimming would have on her life.
Learning how to swim for the first time was a challenge, but Coach Paul Watts taught her the basics to the proper stroke technique, breathing, and floating, and he helped her not be afraid of the water.
At first, swimming was a back up choice for Barajas, but now she cannot imagine doing anything else. “I love everything about swimming. Just being in the water, being able to see my progress and I have fun doing the sport overall,” says Barajas. “I also really love my team and how supportive we are with one another. The way we cheer each other on, and the amount of support we give to one another is great.”
That support from her team is a big reason why she is so passionate about swimming. Barajas says, “When we are swimming you can always hear at least one person yelling ‘GO!’ every time your head pops out the water.”
During Barajas’ 100 meter breaststroke at WCALS, she was the last swimmer to finish, but her teammates never stopped cheering. “Regardless of how bad or slow I was, they would still be there, yelling for me every stroke of the way,” she says.
But swim for Barajas is about more than just hanging out with her friends. It has given her newfound confidence in her body. “I used to be so self conscious about my body and would never wear a bathing suit to swim. It was always shorts and a shirt. I can now proudly say I am not afraid to wear a bathing suite in public, or have my fat hanging out because it is my fat and it is beautiful,” says Barajas.
Her confidence also reflects in her improved times. Barajas says, “A major highlight of mine has been being able to see my 500 meter time improve… it just shows how my efforts have not been ignored and it’s truly impacted me and given me more confidence to believe in myself.”
Barajas attributes a lot of her accomplishments to the supportive coaches at Pres, particularly Watts. Barajas says, “I was the last one in most of the meets and after every meet [Watts] would still tell me ‘great job out there’ and ‘you did awesome.’ He helped inspire me to have confidence in myself, and when I didn’t have confidence in myself, he had the confidence for me.”
Barajas strongly believes in the ability of Pres’ swim program. She says, “Regardless of whether or not you think you will sink or float, I think everyone should try and swim at least once in that pool. It was one of the best decisions in my life.”