Willowbrook Teen Qualifies for U.S. Olympic Trials
When Krystal Lara's alarm goes off at 4:30 am, most people are still sleeping.
The Staten Islander makes the trip from Willowbrook all the way to Asphalt Green's pool on the Upper East Side.
"This is where I sweat blood and tears. I come here in the morning at 5:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays to train, then I come here back after school in the afternoon to do weight training," Lara said.
The Stuyvestant High School senior spends 6 days a week training at the pool.
She's already won numerous titles for her school, and is considered one of the top swimmers in the state.
That diligence continues to pay off. Lara recently qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-meter backstroke.
All this, on top of being an honor student and saxophone player.
"She uses every single moment of her life. When she takes the bus to Staten Island to Manhattan, she’s studying. Even in the car she's doing homework. When she gets home. Like I told her, it takes a lot of discipline, organization," her mother, Alexandra Lara stated.
"She always comes looking to get better, and working hard. She has big goals, but she backs it up with her effort level of training," shared David Rodriguez, Head Coach of Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics.
Lara says it all started when she was just 7 years old, learning how to swim through the city's free Parks & Recreation program.
Now she's earned a scholarship to swim with her team, Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics, one of the top teams on the East Coast.
Not only is she excited about that, but the possibility of representing Staten Island at the Olympics.
"It was a big eye opener for me, really. I mean, if you told me 2 years ago you're gonna qualify for the Olympic trials, I'd be like, no way! "When I actually realized I could qualify, I was at the senior metropolitan championships in Long Island, and I was about .4 away from qualifying. And I was like, ok, Krystal, you can make it!" Lara recalled.
Krystal will find out if she's made the cut after she participates in a week-long competition in Nebraska for the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, 2016.