Samohi Student Overcomes Odds To Become National Champion

Serafina King will represent the U.S. at the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships

Saturday, 19 Apr 2014, 9:33:00 AM

Dennis Freeman

Team Santa Monica swimmer and Samohi student Serafina King has been selected to represent the United States at the  2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships.
Courtesy photo
Team Santa Monica swimmer and Samohi student Serafina King has been selected to represent the United States at the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships.

Serafina King wasn’t too fond of getting into the

swimming pool at an early age. In fact, King, who takes classes at Santa Monica

High School, downright despised learning how to swim.

But she really had little choice in the matter.

For her own development, King’s mother, Tamara, took

the initiative to put her daughter into the pool to help Serafina improve her

muscle structure. That decision didn’t sit well with Serafina. She didn’t like

the idea one bit. Initially, it was a tug-o-war battle between mother and

daughter about the issue.

“We fought for three years,” Serafina said. “I hated

swimming. It was really hard. The first time I went into the pool I seemed lopsided.

The first four years were brutal. ”

Tamara’s bold move to give Serafina swim lessons was

a necessary arrangement. Serafina came out Tamara’s womb as a baby with a

physical deformity.

“She was injured during birth with a spinal cord

injury,” Tamara King said in an interview with The Mirror.

The pool would eventually serve as Serafina’s refuge

and a catalyst to great achievements attained by the Samohi student. On April

9, it was announced that Serafina was selected to represent the United States

in the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships. 

Serafina is one of 45 U.S.

athletes that will compete at the meet that takes place Aug. 6-10 in Pasadena.    

This latest news comes on the heels of Serafina’s

smashing performance at the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Spring Nationals in

Miami, Florida. The international meet featured over 200 swim athletes from 20

countries. Serafina left a powerful enough outing at the meet to be considered

to be part of the U.S. team in Pasadena in August.

Serafina took first place in the 50 (37:01) and

200-meter (2:43:22) backstroke events, placed second in the 100-meter

backstroke (1:16:99) and finished in third place in the 400-meter freestyle

(5:06:84). Rounding out that stellar performance, Serafina also placed fifth in

the 100m freestyle and sixth in the 50-meter freestyle race.

Capping off that remarkable performance, Serafina

recorded her best times in all the races she swam in. All of those six hours

days and eight practices a week she’s has had to go through in preparation for

that big stage paid off for Serafina.

Now with sights aimed at participating at the 2016

Paralympic Games in Rio, Serafina can look back and see all the hard work she

put into being a top-notch swimmer was well-worth the sacrifice.

She can also think back to when her mother refused

to buckle and give her a way out of the pool. Tamara not only put Serafina

in the pool for muscle therapy. She kept her there. There were countless

physical therapy sessions to supplement Serafina’s swimming. All of the nights

of frustration, the days of uncertainty that Tamara King endured about her

daughter’s future, turned out for the best for Serafina.

“I would not let her quit swimming,” Tamara said. “Every day was a miniature physical therapy session. It was hard…It was a

humbling experience.”

It also took willingness on Serafina’s part to give swimming

a try, even though the physical ailment that affected her shoulder and arm

muscles made it excruciating for her in the water. But like any other kid

learning the art of swimming, Serafina wasn’t given any special treatment

because of her physical disability. There was no sympathy cards handed out to

her. There were no baby-sitting hours.  

To get to where she is today, Serafina would have to

work. And work hard.

“The first time I go into the pool, I couldn’t get

my arm out of the water,” Serafina said. “(But) they didn’t treat me any


 Serafina doesn’t

expect anyone to treat her differently than anyone else when she is not

swimming. The pool is another matter. The American record holder in the 50-yard

freestyle for S10 women, Serafina is also the swiftest U.S. female in the

400-meter freestyle race. Serafina, who is part of the Team Santa Monica squad,

said she was she was not surprised by her big showing in Miami.  

“I knew what to expect,” Serafina said. “I knew I

had a really good chance. I felt confident this year. I started training a lot


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