UCLA Legacy Elena Escalas Will Swim for the Bruins

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, October 13. Nashville Aquatic Club’s Elena Escalas will follow in her father’s footsteps as she has picked the UCLA Bruins as her collegiate destination.

Escalas, who is ranked fifth in the State of Tennessee by CollegeSwimming.com, is a UCLA legacy as her NCAA champion father Rafael Escalas swam for the Bruins in the early 80s.

Escalas has focused on the breaststroke events, with her rapidly improving top times coming in the past two years.  She clocked a 1:03.73 in the 100-yard breast at the 2014 Southeastern Championships, while also posting a 2:17.71 in the 200-yard breaststroke at the 2014 Southeastern Southern Premier meet.

She also has some long course ability, owning a top time of 1:13.51 in the 100-meter breast and a 2:37.25 in the 200-meter breaststroke events.  She clocked her 100 at the 2014 Southeastern Long Course Championships, while putting up her top 200 time at the 2013 edition of the meet.

Escalas is a two-time Scholastic All-American who also earned a NISCA High School All-American certificate as part of the University School of Nashville. She’s also a Hispanic National Merit Scholar in the classroom, and competed on the state champion soccer team this year.

Escalas has had some strong outings at the Tennessee State High School Championships.  As a freshman, she took second in the 100-yard breast with a 1:05.27, then tied for second as a sophomore with a 1:05.10. This year, she cracked the 1:05 mark for the first time in high school championship competition with a 1:04.94 for third.

Escalas currently swims for John Morse and Doug Wharam at the Nashville Aquatic Club.

Escalas’ swimming blood runs deep when you look back at her father’s feats in the early 80’s.

Elena’s father, Rafael, has some serious roots in the UCLA community.  The two-time Spanish Olympian swam for Ron Ballatore’s amazing UCLA squads at NCAAs.  In 1981, he broke the NCAA record in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 14:53.90.

That’s pretty impressive in and of itself, but he also was seeded last in the 1650 free that year, becoming the only swimmer to ever go from being the slowest seed on the psych sheet to first on the podium in an event.  Although Escalas had a strong 1500-meter freestyle, having just finaled at the 1980 Moscow Olympics in the event the year prior, he never had a particularly strong 1650-yard free time before his winning swim. His time was the second-fastest all time, behind only Brian Goodell’s then-American record 14:47.27. Overall, Escalas beat 30 other swimmers after coming into the meet seeded 31st. Escalas then went on to help UCLA win the 1982 overall NCAA team championship.

“I didn’t feel any pressure going in. How could I?” Escalas told Swimming World after his record-breaking swim in the April 1981 edition of Swimming World Magazine. “I was seeded absolutely last and nobody expected anything from me, except those two,” he said, pointing in the direction of Ballatore and Mission Viejo Coach Mark Schubert, under whom Escalas trained from winter 1979 through the 1980 Olympics. “But I think this was a tougher swim than my 1500 at Moscow. There (at the Olympics) Vladimir Salnikov just buried everybody. Here I felt much more relaxed and confident.”

Escalas still has deep ties to the swimming community. He is currently the president and CEO of AgonSwim, and served as the Technical Director for Swimming at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the Competition Manager for Swimming at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.