‘Overtime’ spotlight: Boylan swimmer Nhia Caras

High School Sports

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — There is a girls swimming season this fall, but as of now there most likely won’t be a State meet. If there’s not it’ll be a shame for one Boylan swimmer in particular Nhia Caras.

What Nhia Caras does in the pool often ends up on the wall of records beside the pool at Boylan. She’s been setting school, meet and pool records since her freshman year.

“She is a powerhouse,” said Boylan coach Christine Kowalski.

“I’m like one of the most competitive people you could meet,” says Caras. “Like, no mater what it is. If it’s like a game of cards like I’m going to get into the game of cards. I just like to compete and get up every day and race.”

Caras’ specialties are the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. She has been the NIC-10 champion in both of those events each of the last three years. She has also qualified for State each of the last three years. Last year she finished 11th at State in the 50 freestyle despite being plagued by injuries and ill-health almost the entire season.

“At the begining of the season I got a shoulder injury,” said Caras. “I had bicep tendinitis and then overuse injury of my right shoulder, and so I had to deal with that. I wasn’t able to like train fully. Then I got pneumonia two weeks before Sectionals, so I had to swim my in-season with pneumonia and a shoulder injury, and I have asthma so that made my pneumonia even worse.”

“She did struggle with some health ailments last year,” said Kowalski, “But she ended on a great note. To place in the top 12 in any individual event at State it’s a remarkable feat.”

How did Caras overcome all that?

“Just press on. That’s my quote press on and keep going. No matter what never give up because I wasn’t going to not go to State so.”

“A lot of it was really hard last year because a lot of people like to put their assumptions in with my injury and everything. Was I like faking it? Was it real? And it definitely was real, but a lot of people started talking. It was really hard to deal with people chiming in with their own opinions, and that was really hard to overcome and not like learn how to not listen to the outside noise.”

But Caras says she’s healthy and strong this year.

“I do feel faster. I’m more ready. I’m more prepared. I’ve been lifting more. I’ve been running more. My endurance is way better. I’ve finally healed my shoulder because that was a big issue last year.”

There are no relays events in swimming this season due to social distancing protocols, but that also means swimmers can compete in more individual events, so Caras could be setting more records.

“Well I’m a flyer too,” said Caras. “I can do the 100 fly and I’d like to get better at the 200 free. One of my goals this year is to improve my times and try to break as many records as I can.”

“I think she’s definitely a determined individaul and once she sets her sights on a goal she goes after it,” says Kowalski.

Caras started swimming when she was five years old. She comes from an athletic family, but not necessarily a family of swimmers.

“I live with my dad and my grandma and grandpa and they’re all great athletes. My dad (Joe Caras) was a good basketball player. He played for Guilford, but I mean we’re all athletes and we’re all competitive.”

Then there’s the other member of the family, Caras’s pet rabbit Murphy.

“I like to play with my pet rabbit. I take him on walks.

But don’t look for Caras to take Murphy into the pool.

“No, they can’t swim because, they can swim, but they could die from it. They get heart attacks.”

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