Daniela Monroy was going to remember the final swim meet of her 14-year career for “the rest of her life,” so she saw a supreme swan song as nearly obligatory.
But no pressure.
“I’ve never been so stressed out in my life,” Monroy said of the week of November’s 4A state championship meet. “There was so much pressure. I really couldn’t get my head straight. It’s all I thought about. I mean, no one’s putting pressure on me to win. It’s just a fact that I wanted to make this year memorable.”
The Century High senior said she barely slept, her heart rate was often elevated and her hands shook from anxiety in the days leading up to state.
Her solution was trying not to think about swimming by being with friends, but she failed to resist the temptation to scroll through swimming photos from yesteryears on her phone.
Daniela said “swimming is me,” so her curtain call had to be emphatic.
She achieved her wish.
The 2020 All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year won two 4A state titles.
Daniela clinched the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.36 seconds, breaking her 4A state meet record from 2018 by 0.69 seconds. Then, she broke the 1-minute barrier in the 100-yard butterfly for the first time in her career with a time of 58.23 second.
“I did all this work and I kind of wanted to end it on the best note possible,” Monroy said. “I don’t think I could have done any better. I was really proud of myself.”
Minus her Player of the Year photo shoot, Monroy has not stepped in a pool since, happily riding into the sunset after an exhausting trek to the conclusion of her swimming career.
She started competitively swimming at 3 years old and began beating kids twice her age. But her commitment decreased because of burnout. She decided to quit club swimming at the beginning of high school and to not swim in college.
She did stay committed to high school swimming. When she talked to her father this past season, she told him she was looking forward to moving on from the sport, but also spoke several times about how winning her solo races at state was paramount.
“She just wanted to finish it out on top and that’s what she talked about with me all the time,” said her father, Ruben Monroy. “She was very anxious throughout the season, I can tell you that. She was nervous that she wouldn’t make her goal.”
The two-time All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year gained a confidence boost by winning a state title in the 50 free as a junior.
People knew her name in her senior season, including competitors and younger admirers. She was better at her craft than she ever was or ever will be.
Daniela continued to show traits people associated with her, being “headstrong,” “determined,” "tenacious,” “competitive” and “hard on herself.”
“She wants to get something done, she’s going to get something done,” said her Century teammate Coleman Sandy, a senior whose career crossed paths with hers since the first grade. “She definitely kept me and lot of her teammates in check throughout the years. If we made an excuse to take off a set or not come to practice, she was always on my butt.”
Now, that chapter has closed and another opens.
For almost as long as Daniela has swam, she has wanted to be a doctor, so that is what she is pursuing – with the same ferocity she applied to swimming.
“The ability to keep going when you’re tired is a really big part of medical school and residency for long hours,” David said. “So she’s developed the stamina to get to that point through swimming,”