Making a big splash

Kapolei's Meredith Egloria is fast
becoming a force among OIA swimmers
and she is only a freshman

By Marc Dixon

Fares have risen, interisland flight coupons have been eliminated, and the number of flights continues to diminish, and Meredith Egloria has still never been to Molokai.

Not that she would need a plane.

Egloria is the young swimming star of Oahu's youngest high school in the Oahu Interscholastic Association and is showcasing her swimming prowess for the Kapolei Swim Club and the Kapolei Hurricanes. And she has proven that she might not need transportation, just the water and someone to point the way.

In actuality, Egloria's strength is her speed and not her distance swimming. Despite just turning 15 this month, the Kapolei freshman is already being hailed by her coach as the fastest in the state since Mililani High School pool legend Keiko Price.

In 1994, Price set the mark for sprinters by capturing the state 50- and 100-yard freestyle records. This summer, Egloria missed erasing Price's 50-yard time of 23.26 by three one-hundredths of a second.

And she's still got three and a half seasons to go.

"The sky's the limit for Meredith," Kapolei associate head coach Dexter Lee said. "She trains hard, she's got good support, right now we're looking at national championships where she'll be competing to be on the Olympic team."

Realistically, Lee says that Egloria needs to shave about a half-second in her 50-yard freestyle time to really compete in the senior summer sectionals. This past summer, Egloria was the youngest finalist in the 50-yard freestyle at sectionals.

Earlier this month, Egloria set pool records in the Kalani Invitational in the freestyle and backstroke. While those events tend to be her strongest and most favorite, Egloria's talents aren't limited to those strokes.

"Of course she did real well in the back and free but she can swim them all," Hurricanes associate head coach Sandra Jamora said.

"She's a threat whenever she's in the pool."

The third of four children, Egloria combines her given talents with great work ethic. Lee provided the highest compliment when referring to his star as "the kid I hope to have when I have kids."

Aside from homework, school and practice, Meredith also takes the time to help care for her younger sister. According to Lee, unlike some others her age, Meredith takes instruction remarkably well, possesses great drive and stays very focused in practice.

"Basically, what puts her over the top is she works harder than any kid I ever coached," said Lee.

What makes it easier for the 5-foot-4 freshman is that none of it seems like work. Since taking her first lesson at age 7 at Barbers Point, Egloria found a new-found passion for the pool.

"It's fun, you meet people, and get to go places," Egloria said. "I've been to Oregon, Washington, Arizona and almost all the neighbor islands."

At all her stops, Egloria usually experiences some nervousness prior to the race, but once it begins, the butterflies, like most of her competition, are left in her wake.

"When I swim I don't really think, I just swim," said Egloria. "I try to go as fast as I can as long as I can. Sometimes I have a song in my head that plays over and over. It helps to get me in a rhythm."

With the same spirit that had her playing tackle football with the neighborhood boys in middle school ("I only play defense, I don't throw or catch, I tackle"), Meredith takes on all comers, despite the age and size difference.

"I try to concentrate on my lane, but sometimes I look at the older girls and think they're so much taller, they're Amazons but I block it out because I don't want to be negative before I even start," Egloria said.

Another factor Egloria cited as a key to her success is her parents.

"When I get tired and stuff, they are very supportive," she said. "They teach me good morals and they don't let me get big-headed."

While the Olympics are an acknowledged goal, Egloria has her sights set on a collegiate swimming career following her high school days. But with more than three full years ahead of her, Egloria said she'll likely focus on her more pressing issues -- practice, school, homework, sleep, getting to the Duke Kahanamoku Pool in March for the state championships and, maybe if she has time, Molokai.

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