WEST ORANGE, NJ - Exceptional athletes can often be overlooked when their sport does not receive the recognition that more popular sports do. Football, baseball, soccer, basketball, track and even hockey fills the sports pages of the local papers. However, one student athlete at West Orange High School that deserves recognition is Junior Nicholas Santa Cruz, who has excelled on the Boys Varsity Swim Team since freshman year. Nick began swimming at the age of twelve and hasn’t left the water since.

“I’ve been successful as a swimmer because I’ve dedicated my life to it. I have nine practices a week and I also work out individually,” Nick said.

Nick says he prefers freestyle and breaststroke in long distance races, which he swims for WOHS and his club swim team. Those types of races are not built for people who are quick in the water. Well-developed swimmers show off their technique and endurance during long races. Nick often swims in the longest high school race, the 500 meter freestyle, which may be up 20 laps in some pools.

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Nick not only competes by himself, he also swims in the  anchor spot for the relay team. Nick said that even though the races can come to him quite often, he stays cool and does his best to “bring in the wins whenever possible.”

Nick plans to study physiological therapy in college. He also expects to swim on that college's swim team.

It has been a fantastic week for Santa Cruz, winning four races against Science Park, contributing in the only three wins West Orange had in their defeat against Seton Hall (two individual winning races and one relay), and winning a 500-meter freestyle against Union High School, for a total of eight wins in one week.

In addition to the WOHS Swim Team, his club swim team, and his impressive academics in honors classes, Nick also plays the tuba in the award-winning WOHS marching band and is a midfielder for the WOHS lacrosse team.

For his talent as an all-around student athlete at West Orange High School, Nick Santa Cruz is the West Orange The Alternative Press Athlete of the Week.