By Sharon Robb
March 16, 2016—After practice is over on Saturdays at Academic Village, Eiza Gantus will stay around the pool for a while talking with friends and watching the pro swimmers work out.
The South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer enjoys watching Megan Romano, Kile Aukerman, Alia Atkinson and the rest of the ProFlo group.
“When I look at them I hope that one day that will be me,” Gantus said. “I want to be able to swim with the pros someday.
“Watching them inspires me and helps me work harder. It motivates me to watch them train. I like to see how they succeed.”
Gantus, 14, an eighth grader at Pioneer Middle School, earned Swimmer of the Month honors after doing well at the Area 3 Championships. He swam all best times and earned four new Junior Olympic cuts for the 13-14 age group. He went on and did well at JOs dropping even more time.
Gantus started swimming when he was 8 years old with the Cyclones. The 5-foot-10 swimmer played soccer and did gymnastics for a year before he started focusing solely on swimming.
He started training at SOFLO in 2013 and works with Coach Travis Lockie and the Silver Group.
“He is really a good coach,” Gantus said. “He pushes me a lot and helps me improve.”
Gantus said he started improving and getting faster his first year with SOFLO.
“My old team wasn’t that competitive,” he said. “I really like SOFLO. I can have a lot of competition in practice so I can also have more goals and more people I want to beat. I can succeed better in swimming.”
Gantus looks up to Rafael Rodriguez, one of his teammates. “It’s a good goal to beat him,” Gantus said.
At Area 3 Championships, Gantus was happy with his 100-yard butterfly dropping time from 1:05.43 to 1:02.81 in prelims. He also dropped time in the 50-yard butterfly from 29.16 to 28.38; 50-yard freestyle from 26.49 to 25.60; 100-yard individual medley from 1:09.73 to 1:05.06 and 200-yard individual medley from 2:21.49 to 2:18.36.
“It was the biggest meet I swam and my best short course season,” Gantus said.
At Junior Olympics in Coral Springs, Gantus dropped even more time. In the 500-yard freestyle, he dropped 11.39 seconds, from 5:30.47 to 5:19.08 and in the 1,650-yard freestyle he dropped 11.17 seconds, from 18:53.99 to 18:42.82. In the 400-yard individual medley, he dropped from 5:31.01 to 4:53.36.
“JOs was all right, I went pretty good times and dropped my times from when I went to Area 3s,” Gantus said. “My goal was to make finals. I wanted to make sectionals and zones. I’ll work harder.”
Gantus said he saw his swimming improve after he went on his first major road trip with his teammates to the Gainesville meet.
“I started swimming better ever since I went to the Gainesville meet and I saw how much better the meets are when you start traveling,” Gantus said “I started training harder and made sure my muscles would hurt after practice so I could get used to pain and resist it more.”
Gantus said the benefits of swimming outside the pool has helped him be more disciplined and has helped him budget his time better.
“Swimming has definitely helped me with time management,” Gantus said. “It’s really a strict sport where I have to swim every day. It helps me to be able to follow a schedule and be more organized.
“It also helps me concentrate and have better reaction time in a meet. If I am somehow distracted I react quickly and run behind the blocks so I don’t miss my events.”
In addition to his SOFLO pro teammates, Gantus heroes are Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. He loves watching their races on YouTube.
“I really like swimming, it’s really fun,” Gantus said. “I like how you are swimming against yourself and your own times. It’s not like basketball or football where you have to depend on a team in order to win. Swimming is a tough sport, but I love it.”
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 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org