Wellington High School senior swimmer Caleb DaSilva is extremely fast in the swimming pool, and he’s working on getting faster.
DaSilva, a captain for the Wellington High School boys varsity swimming and diving team, is a sprint specialist who competes in the two fastest events in high school swimming: the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.
Last November, as a junior, DaSilva finished fifth in the boys 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.01, and seventh in the boys 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.40 at the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 4A state swimming championships in Stuart.
In the 50-yard state championship finale last fall, the top four swimmers all broke 21 seconds. The winning time was 20.65, by Marcoaurelio Lopez-Casula, a senior from Miami Beach High School. In the 100-yard event, the winning time was 45.25 by George Gonzalez, a sophomore from G. Holmes Braddock High School in Miami.
The four swimmers who finished ahead of DaSilva in the 50-yard freestyle were all seniors, which means that DaSilva, based on past form, is one of the early favorites to win the event this November. But swimming races are not contested on paper. Instead, they take place in the pool, and DaSilva is not the only fast Class 4A swimmer returning in the 50-yard freestyle. The swimmer who finished right behind DaSilva in sixth place last fall was just seven one-hundredths of a second behind him.
For DaSilva to improve his times in these challenging events, he realizes that he must improve his starts, turns, stroke technique and kicking. If he does, he will dramatically improve his chances of becoming a state champion on Friday, Nov. 10, when this year’s FHSAA Class 4A state swimming finals will be held at the Florida Aquatics Swimming & Training Center in Ocala. It’s a pool that DaSilva likes.
“Off the blocks, I’m working on improving my reaction time, so I get in the pool faster,” DaSilva said. “My turns can be better, and my kick needs to be more consistent and stronger. I’m working on improving my stroke technique right now in practice.”
His favorite event is the 50-yard freestyle.
“I like the 50 free because it’s easier to swim, and it’s a faster race,” DaSilva explained.
DaSilva has a rather simple game plan when he competes in the 50-yard event, which is just two laps in the 25-yard pool.
“I just swim, hold my breath, and get to the wall as soon as I can,” he said. “I don’t look for the other swimmers, but I do see them through the corners of my goggles.”
Another strategic decision DaSilva must make is how many times he takes a breath.
“Right now, I’m breathing twice, which is once per lap,” DaSilva said. “But I can cut that down to one breath.”
While DaSilva is a sprint freestyle specialist, he also swims the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke, on occasion.
During the 6,000-yard to 8,000-yard workouts at the Wellington Aquatics Complex, under the supervision of longtime WHS head swimming coach Richard Whalen, DaSilva said that he doesn’t let his mind wander, since he needs to be efficient in the water with his kick and stroke.
Another advantage that DaSilva has is that he has strong swimming genes, as his mother — Laura Nuudi — is a former international swimmer for Estonia. She swam the butterfly and backstroke. His younger brother, sophomore Andreas, is also on the WHS swimming squad. Andreas specializes in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly.
When he’s not swimming, DaSilva refuels his body with lots of food, and he’s not picky.
“I eat whatever I can find, and I eat whatever I want,” said DaSilva, who added that his mother is a great cook.
To his credit, DaSilva is as outstanding in the classroom as he is in the pool. He has an impressive 3.96 grade point average. His favorite subjects are math and science.
After graduating from WHS next May, DaSilva is committed to swimming in college, but he has not made a decision on where he wants to go. He would like to pursue a degree in engineering.
But for now, DaSilva’s main objective in life is to re-engineer his swimming stroke so that he can continue to get faster in the pool. Chances are strong that he will get faster. But will it be fast enough to win a state title? Only time will tell.