Both found an escape in the water and began swimming at a young age.
The two compete on their respective schools’ swim teams, as well as the club team O2.
Both have mastered the art of time management – juggling advanced courses, homework and swim practices in the morning and afternoon.
And the two are district champion swimmers headed to regionals in four events (the maximum allowed by the UIL).
Herrera, a sophomore at Nimitz, claimed gold in the 200 freestyle while Diaz, a MacArthur junior, took the title in the 500 freestyle at the district swim meet on January 16.
“It was very painful because I went straight from a relay into my next event,” says Herrera. “Knowing that I beat everyone pumped me up. I wasn’t expecting that. But there I was on the podium – first place.”
Herrera also took fourth in the 100 fly and qualified in two relays – the 200 medley and the 200 freestyle.
Diaz won the bronze in the 200 freestyle and qualified in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays.
“Freestyle is when you swim any stroke you want – backstroke, fly, breaststroke,” he says. “But my favorite event is the 200 IM. That’s basically the four strokes. You start with fly, then go to backstroke, then breaststroke and you end in freestyle. You’re switching the whole time, and you have to think how you’re going to do everything different. I like the challenge, and at the end you’re completely drained.”
Unlike Diaz, Herrera has a specific favorite event.
“People think I’m crazy because I like fly,” she says. “I like it because you use your whole body, your core. The pain that it involves – I like it. It builds me up and gives me more energy to keep going.”
But just like Diaz, she thrives on the mental challenge of swimming.
“I like the individual aspect,” she says. “It involves a lot of mentality and physical work. But it’s mostly about the mental part. If you’re not there mentally, then you’re not there physically either. On the days when I’m not there, it makes me want to come back the next day and prove to myself that I’m there and I know what I’m doing and I’m being better.”
Although the two still have a few years left of high school and club competition, both hope to continue their swimming careers beyond graduation.
“I’m trying to get a scholarship for swimming, but if I can’t, it doesn’t matter,” says Diaz. “I’ll find a master’s club wherever I’m going and keep swimming because it’s really helpful and something I need. I like the feeling of being in water, moving up and down, not in the regular way that we move forward on land. It’s relaxing. It’s an escape for me. It’s a nice feeling just pushing yourself and trying harder to get better times and testing yourself in a different way.”
The two will represent Irving ISD, along with 24 other qualifiers, at the regional swim meet this Friday and Saturday at the Lewisville ISD Westside Aquatic Center.
A complete list of regional qualifiers from Irving ISD can be found below:
- Girls 200 Medley Relay – Nimitz (Bianca Benitez, Xitlaly Herrera, Marcela Lara, Andrea Arana Torres)
- Boys 200 Yard Medley Relay – Irving (Kevin Carcamo, Adlai Olivares Molina, Alan Aldana, Geremias Bran Gomez)
- Girls 200 Yard Freestyle – Xitlaly Herrera (Nimitz); Nancy Sosa (Irving)
- Boys 200 Yard Freestyle – Jeronimo Diaz (MacArthur)
- Girls 200 Yard IM – Sari Guzman (MacArthur)
- Boys 200 Yard IM – Andrew Rivera Scott (Irving)
- Girls 50 Yard Freestyle – Leilah Osorio (MacArthur)
- Girls 100 Yard Butterfly – Xitlaly Herrera (Nimitz)
- Girls 100 Yard Freestyle – Nancy Sosa (Irving)
- Boys 500 Yard Freestyle – Jeronimo Diaz (MacArthur); Lorenzo Juarez Romo (Nimitz)
- Girls 200 Yard Freestyle Relay – Irving (Ibeth Menchaca, Valeria Ventura Castro, Joselyn Coreas, Nancy Sosa); Nimitz (Zwany Viruet, Andrea Arana Torres, Marcela Lara, Xitlaly Herrera)
- Boys 200 Yard Freestyle Relay – Irving (Austin Rivera Scott, Max Cabezas, Tanner Rose, Andrew Rivera Scott); MacArthur (Hunter Capulong, Roberto Perez Lopez, Daniel Navarro, Jeronimo Diaz)
- Girls 100 Yard Backstroke – Sari Guzman (MacArthur)
- Boys 100 Yard Backstroke – Andrew Rivera Scott (Irving); Hunter Capulong (MacArthur)
- Boys 100 Yard Breaststroke – Austin Rivera Scott (Irving)
- Girls 400 Yard Freestyle Relay – MacArthur (Vanessa Romero, Sari Guzman, Ashley Argueta Guevara, Leilah Osorio); Irving (Joselyn Coreas, Ibeth Menchaca, Diana Leal, Nancy Sosa); Nimitz (Andrea Arana Torres, Zwany Viruet, Mariela Lara, Marcela Lara)
- Boys 400 Yard Freestyle Relay – Irving (Andrew Rivera Scott, Max Cabezas, Tanner Rose, Austin Rivera Scott); MacArthur (Hunter Capulong, Roberto Perez Lopez, Daniel Navarro, Jeronimo Diaz); Nimitz (Jayro Mejia, Trevor Ellenbecker, Lorenzo Juarez Romo, Brian Amaya)
Additional photos of Irving ISD swimmers can be found here.