A Swimming Success: Sarah Flores

HARLINGEN — Sarah Flores swam swiftly across the pool, rolling smoothly with each stroke.

Sarah, 15, was practicing the second passion of her life at the Harlingen school district’s Aquatics Center. She’d come with the rest of the Harlingen High School Varsity Swimming Team.

She was one of the first in the water, diving and then zipping toward the other side with a notable zest. It could be said the sophomore moved with an almost musical precision, not surprising if you consider her first passion is the cello.

“I enjoy winning,” said Sarah, who’s excelled in competition both as a musician and a swimmer.

Sarah recently won a gold medal for cello at a state competition. She also took gold for piano, which she has played since age 4.

“Last year at district I took third in the 200-meter individual medley and second in the hundred-meter butterfly,” she said.

Butterfly? One-hundred meters? What does that have to do with pianos and cellos?

Nothing. But it has everything to do with her competitions with the varsity swim team. She started swimming in the seventh grade. She liked the exercise; she enjoyed the sport itself. However, those factors weren’t the biggest reasons for her attraction to the sport.

So what was it?

“The fact that I was good at it,” she said with a laugh. “I do it because I enjoy competing. I’m the only one from my team to qualify for regionals for individual events at the UIL district level.”

Her biggest challenge as a swimmer is “dropping her time,” which means decreasing the amount of time she takes to complete an event.

Sarah, who is in the top 10 in her class, began playing the cello at age 12. She’d just seen a musical performance and was enamored by the instrument.

“I want to play the cello,” she said as she left. This minor epiphany took place 2 1/2 years ago and she’s excelled at the instrument. She couldn’t say whether she likes the piano or the cello the best. There are different things she likes about each instrument.

She enjoys the cello for its power as the base line in a symphony and for its distinct sound.

“I like the deep tone of it,” she said. “It doesn’t sound strange to go low.”

Sarah demonstrated her advanced expertise and passion for the instrument when she and three friends formed a musical group called The Armonioso String Quartet. They impressed everyone with their initiative to pool their talents with two violins, a viola, and Sarah’s cello. The community was even more impressed by their sound.

So pleasant was their music they were invited to perform at various school functions and even weddings. It was a grand venture for all of them, but ultimately they felt compelled to disband in November. They simply couldn’t find the time to practice. They didn’t feel they were delivering the quality of sound their listeners deserved.

Sarah said she doesn’t really miss being in the quartet. After all, the four of them came together as friends and they still see each other regularly. Even more so considering they’re all musicians.

What remains consistent is an easy-going, yet driven, young athlete and musician who’s found a balance between two very different disciplines. Not only that, she’s shown herself to be a worthy contender in both.