Cameron Martinez: The man, the myth, the mermaid

Photo by   Geneva Baldauf ‘15

Photo by Geneva Baldauf ‘15

The Campbell sports center is frequented by a single figure swimming back and forth in lane six, all the way to the right, with methodical strokes. Rarely seen without  black cap and black prescription goggles, this figure is Cameron Martinez (‘16)     

A native of Aledo, Texas, Martinez stands at six-foot-one, wears thin glasses, and has naturally blonde hair and blue eyes. In his time at Sarah Lawrence has broken 13 of the college’s men’s swimming records and was named Athlete of the Year by the Sarah Lawrence Athletics Department for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014. He has served as the men’s team captain during the 2013-2014 season and  holds eight individual records and five relay records.

In February, when the Gryphons travelled to Ithaca, New York for the Upper New York State Coaches Association (UNYSCSA) Championships, Martinez placed first in the 200-yard butterfly and 100-yard butterfly, and third  in 200 yard Individual Medley. He was named UNYSCSA Mark Randall Swimmer of the Meet and his times earned him NCAA Division 3 “B-cuts.”*

Photo by Geneva Baldauf '15

Photo by Geneva Baldauf '15

Martinez is relatively new to swimming, having gotten his start freshman year of high school. Initially a baseball player (and still a fan of the Texas Rangers), Martinez switched to swimming after an injury prevented him from making his high school baseball team.

“I decided to make swimming a priority,” Martinez said. “I swam freshman year, and the summer after freshman year I didn’t train.” It was the beginning of his junior year that Martinez began to get serious about swimming. “My senior year was when I started swimming well. But by that point, it was February and it was too late to get recruited anywhere.”

Martinez did not look at swimming at any other schools, undeterred by the fact he would be a big fish in a small pond.

“It’s nice, chill. I can do my thing,” he said, although he admits it gets frustrating when it is just him. “Back home, when we’re doing a set and a 15-year-old is beating me, it pushes me to try harder, where as here it’s harder to tell so I just go.”

Martinez is an integral part of the men’s swim team, often leading the team in group stretches and offering advice before races. After placing first in the 200 butterfly at UNYSCSA, he turned to his teammates cheering at the other end and made a heart symbol with his hands.

The highlight of last season for Martinez came during UNYSCSA. “Winning the 100 butterfly, and Dzana [co-captain Alexandra Ashworth, ‘14] crying after I won. I really didn’t expect to win the 100 butterfly, so that was really great.”

During the height of swim season, Martinez estimated he spent 15 hours a week in the pool and seven hours a week doing dryland, such as CrossFit. More specifically, he practiced twice a day four days a week and once a day two days a week, taking a break on Sundays.

When not in the pool, Martinez is a theater third and an aspiring filmmaker. He hopes to pursue filmmaking in various mediums such as television and feature films. “Even theater has sparked my interest, so plays and musicals are possibilities,” he said of future creative endeavors.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching and creating movies. His favorite food to order at the Pub is either the Ranch Hand Special or the soft tacos. In addition to swimming, Martinez also competes on the Sarah Lawrence Men’s Volleyball team.

Martinez attributes several people to his success, most notably his two coaches, Sarah Lawrence Swimming’s head coach, Eric Mitchell, and his coach from Texas, Andrew Ha.

“Without a coach, I wouldn’t go anywhere. Eric recruited me.” said Martinez. After a bad high school experience, he was wary to switch coaches, “but Eric knows what he’s doing,” he said.

“[Andrew] Ha is my club swim coach [Sigma Performance Swimming]. It’s nice to have him because [Andrew] and Eric have different styles and different perspectives. Andrew got me into swimming and taught me a lot about technique.”    

Although Cameron has swam most of the events in collegiate swimming, his favorite is the 200 butterfly.  “[The 200 fly] gives me time to get myself going. 100 Fly is too quick, whereas the 200 fly, I feel like I get something out of it.”

This summer, Cameron has been working at the Sports Center at Sarah Lawrence, as well as training with a local swim club, the Marlins. He recently competed in the 2014 Speedo Championship Series Long Course “Super Sectional,”where he placed 13th in the 100-meter butterfly and 21st in the 200-meter  butterfly.  

“Sectionals went fairly well. I dropped time in all my events; however, I did not go the ties I would have liked to go. Overall, I’d say my summer season was successful in preparing me for the school season,” said Martinez of the meet.

“I’m looking forward to having a faster team all around, and having this team be able to compete on an entirely new level that we’ve never done before,”

The men and women’s swim teams begin practice on Sept. 22, 2014 and have their first meet on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

 *“B-cuts” refers to times specified by the NCAA that do not guarantee athlete's entry into NCAA Division # championships. Instead, these athletes may be extended an “invitation” to participate. Opposed to an A Cut, which guarantees a swimmer entry into NCAA Championships, B-Cuts tend to be slightly slower. Not everyone that obtains a B-Cut is invited.

by Colette Harley '17
Sports Editor