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Talented teenage swimmer Krystal Lara prepares for Olympic trials

Krystal Lara (photo via Facebook)

Krystal Lara starts each day on Staten Island in New York at 4:30am. Swim practice comes first for the talented 18-year-old senior, who is the star of her school team and has trained to compete with a premier swim team, six days a week for three years. She swims as many as 80,000 meters (or 50 miles) most weeks according to the New York Times and last August, Lara qualified for the 100-meter event at the upcoming Olympic trials. “You don’t understand how hard it is for a family like ours to have this result,” her mother, Alexandra Lara, said. The elder Lara is an immigrant from Colombia whose husband grew up in a Dominican-American family.

Swimming is a primarily white sport because of racial and socioeconomic gaps that often leave the children of low-income families out of competitive pools. Lara learned to swim at age six through a free parks department program and is often the only Latina in the pool, she explained. “You generally need to be from a pretty good financial background to do swim seriously, so that’s a huge reason you see so few people of color,” she told the Times. “But diversity in the pool is so important.”

Beyond the swim records she’s claimed, Lara — whose teammates have nicknamed her Krystal the Pistol — is a top student who also plays the saxophone. “I hate procrastinating,” she said. “Being in the water relaxes me and keeps me focused.” She plans to attend Northwestern University in the fall (and then take over the world).

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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