Kapolei senior Egloria makes splash despite battling asthma
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
For someone who has won so many times during her prolific swimming career, Kapolei High School senior Meredith Egloria is not obsessed with always being No. 1.
For her, the journey is more important than the destination.
"I don't really have expectations when I go into a meet," said Egloria, a three-time state champion in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. "Whatever happens, happens. If I trained properly and practiced as hard as I should, then there's nothing more I can do."
Unlike other athletes who feel they must listen to a certain song or psyche themselves up prior to competition, Egloria does not need to get herself "into the zone," because she never gets out of it.
"When I'm swimming in a race, I don't think," Egloria said. "Sometimes when I get out of the water, someone will ask me, 'How was that? How did you feel?' But I come out blank. To me, the 50 and 100 is all instinct, and if you think too much, you actually go slower."
Even Egloria's coaches have had trouble breaking her out of her zone, though they have tried.
"Sometimes my coach will try to talk about strategy just before a race," Egloria said. "And I'll just look at him and say, 'You know once I get in the water I'm going to just swim.' And then he'll say, 'Yeah ... I know.'"
No one can argue with the results.
Egloria splashed onto the Hawai'i high school swimming scene almost immediately after enrolling at Kapolei as a freshman. In 2003, during her first O'ahu Interscholastic Association championship meet, she shattered the 100 free record set by Mililani's Keiko Price in 1995, finishing in a blazing 52.82 seconds. Price's time was 53.87, and she went on to become a Pac-10 Conference champion in the event and set three school records at UCLA.
Egloria proceeded to sweep the 50 and 100 at the state championship meet as a freshman and has yet to surrender the titles.
Her early success did not surprise Kapolei coach Dexter Lee, who also has coached Egloria on the Hawai'i Swim Club team.
"When she was 11, she already was a gifted sprinter," Lee said. "She always had the talent, but she also has the desire and the love of the sport that really makes her do well."
Egloria also has the courage and mental toughness to overcome big challenges. For the past two years, she has continued to dominate her events while often fighting off the effects of asthma attacks.
"It's called 'bronchial spasms,' and it's actually exercise-induced so it kicks in at almost every meet," Lee said. "But she's learned to work around it; she's learned a lot about herself. Before she would just charge full-blast until everything breaks down, but now when she senses it coming on, she'll back off just a bit."
Even more impressive than how Egloria handles the asthma attacks physically is how she deals with them mentally.
"It can be frustrating for her, but she doesn't let it on," Lee said. "She never, ever looks down about it. She'd be breaking world records if it weren't for (the asthma attacks), but she's never thought of herself as being cursed, or anything like that. She's never considered backing off or quitting, and she always is willing to give 100 percent in the pool.
"It's been a big adjustment on her part, but she thinks she's conquered it."
Again, the results show nothing less.
At Saturday's 29th Annual Kalani Invitational, Egloria swept the 50 and 200 by wide margins. She swam the 50 in 23.85 seconds, well ahead of the second-place time (25.14). In the 200, she won in 1:57.53, more than three seconds faster than the next-best finisher.
And as usual, Egloria took the victories in stride, even though it was her fourth and final appearance in the prestigious meet, which included swimmers from 27 public and private schools from around the state.
"I'm just taking every meet one at a time," she said. "Even with the events, that's how you gotta do it."
Egloria's success is not limited to the pool. She carries a 3.2 grade point average and has earned a full scholarship to Northern Arizona University, located in the desert highlands.
"I've never seen snow before," Egloria said. "I'm excited about that."
Yet another first.
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org.