By Sharon Robb
August 13, 2015—All it took was watching Michael Phelps compete in the Summer Olympics for Christian Tijero to fall in love with the sport.
“I saw him swim all those races and it was so interesting,” Tijero said. “It looked like fun. I thought ‘why don’t I try it.’
“I remember telling my mom I wanted to try out for swimming,” said Tijero, whose favorite strokes are backstroke and butterfly. “I really liked it. It’s a fun sport. It was really competitive.”
Tijero started swimming at age 6 and joined South Florida Aquatic Club in September, 2014. Since then he has flourished in the sport.
Tijero, competing as a 9-year-old at last month’s Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics, posted seven best times in five individual events and two relays.
“I wanted to do good in the meet, I trained hard for it,” Tijero said. “I didn’t expect all those best times. I was really surprised and really happy.
“I put on a good show. I gave it all I had. I went out to celebrate. I had ice cream and watched the Smurfs II movie.”
For his efforts and training work ethic, Tijero, 10, has been chosen as the first-ever TYR Swimmer of the Month.
TYR, one of the nation’s top USA manufacturers of recreational and competitive swimwear and equipment, recently signed on to sponsor South Florida Aquatic Club for the next five-and-a-half years.
The Renaissance Charter School fifth grader has progressed remarkably while in the Asteroids group with Coach Luis and is excited about moving into the Bronze group with Coach Rose.
“It’s harder when you move up,” he said. “Coach Rose is harder but it will motivate me and make me a better swimmer.”
Tijero is still a big fan of Michael Phelps, at 31, in the midst of training to make the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“He is my role model,” Tijero said. “I do watch videos when he swims. He’s always been my favorite and he won so many medals.”
The 4-foot-5, 75-pound Tijero said he plans to work even harder this season. In addition to training, he is eating healthy and getting his rest which he said will help his swimming.
“I like practice, it prepares me for my competition and really helps me work on what I need to improve,” Tijero said. “I try to work on my strokes a lot.
“Now my goals start all over again the Bronze group. I want to try harder and get more JO cuts and best times. I would like to get some Florida Gold Coast records but I don’t think I am up to that yet. I know I have to train harder to make my goals for the next JOs. It’s really about training and preparing myself for the next meet.
“I really like the water and hanging out with my friends,” Tijero said. “It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, too.”
Tijero is excited that his dad has bought him a holder to hang all his medals. He is up to 15 medals so far with many, many more to come.
Tijero joins past Swimmers of the Month Joseph Lee, Alana Acevedo, CJ Kopecki, Zackary Harris and Madison Johnson.
The TYR Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions. Each TYR Swimmer of the Month will receive a free TYR mini backpack.—Sharon Robb
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com