Swimming pools in which athletes could train were a scarcity while Angel Torres Martinez was growing up in Mexico.
When the family moved to Columbus, that was no longer a problem.
Torres Martinez has found a home in Columbus North High School’s pool the past few years. In his final competition in that pool, the senior won the 50-yard freestyle and helped the Bull Frogs qualify for this weekend’s state meet in a pair of relays.
“It really surprises me,” Torres Martinez said. “It was a huge surprise for me as a junior that I ended up being a sectional champ, and making it back as a senior takes me back.”
Torres Martinez began swimming at the age of 9 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which is just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Shortly after, he joined a club and swam for three years before the pool it used closed.
Unable to find another suitable pool, Torres Martinez gave up swimming for a couple years.
Then, the summer before his eighth-grade year, Torres Martinez’ father landed a job at Cummins. They moved to Columbus, and Angel started swimming again.
“Columbus is pretty small, compared to where I moved from, but I feel like that was a big change for me that I really enjoyed,” Torres Martinez said. “I’m not such an open person, so going from a city with around a million in population to a town of 45,000 people, kind of made me feel comfortable.”
Torres Martinez has been comfortable at North, although he didn’t begin to see much success until last season. In that breakout junior year, he swam a personal-best 21.93 seconds to win the 50 freestyle in the sectional and tied for 27th at state in 22.11 that event.
Also last season, Torres swam on the ninth-place 200 freestyle relay team and the 14th-place 400 freestyle relay team at state.
“Primarily last year, just the feeling of being at state got me nervous,” Torres Martinez said. “This time, I feel like I’m going to be able to control that feeling a little better and get a little more used to the pool.”
This year, Torres Martinez’ sectional-winning time of 22.10 puts him 33rd among the 35 swimmers who qualified in the 50 freestyle. But that’s only 68-hundreths of a second out of 16th, which is where he would need to be to earn a spot in Saturday’s consolation heat.
The top eight from Friday’s preliminaries make the finals, while the next eight make the consolation. Carmel’s Andrew Couchon has the top qualifying time at 20.49.
“Every tenth and hundreth (of a second matters),” North coach Logan Schaefer said. “That event from top to bottom is very close. A great swim could put him top 16 or top eight.”
Last summer, Torres Martinez took a three-month break from swimming to train for the Mill Race Half-Marathon. After wrapping up his competitive swimming career this weekend, he plans to train for the 500 Festival One America Mini-Marathon, which is in May in Indianapolis.
This fall, Torres Martinez will head to IUPUI to major in computer engineering.
“I’m just thinking about replacements of the sport I’ve been doing for so long and how to stay in shape,” Torres Martinez said. “I’m going to miss this sport.”
What: Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals
When: 6 p.m. Friday (swimming preliminaries), 9 a.m. Saturday (diving preliminaries and semifinals), 1 p.m. Saturday (swimming and diving finals)
Where: Indiana University Natatorium, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis
Who: Columbus North’s Sam Russell (200-yard individual medley), Angel Torres Martinez (50 freestyle) and the Bull Frogs’ 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay teams.
Admission: $8 per session or $12 for both days
Advancement: Top eight in each event from Friday’s prelims make the championship finals; next eight make the consolation heat