You don't get the nickname "The Dominator" by being a couch potato.
After more than an hour of swiming laps a few times a few for the past two years, 9-year-old Imperial Beach Charter School student Kayla Quinones will compete in the USA Swimming 2013 Junior Olympics Meet for San Diego and Imperial counties Sunday in Poway.
To qualify to compete in the Junior Olympics, Quinones swam a 50-meter breaststroke in 43.68 seconds at a Feb. 10 meet at Mater Dei High School.
"It was really hard working to get that time," she said. "It's hard to prepare because you get out of breath a lot, but it was really fun."
Quinones is one of dozens of young athletes from age 6 to college who practice and compete with the Imperial Beach Swim Team.
Over 18 years of coaching IBST athletes, Quinones is one of seven swimmers who have qualified to compete in the Junior Olympics, said Coach Susan Czerwiec.
"She's been shooting for this the past year and a half," Czerwiec said. "She came short by half a second last year."
The IB Swim Team is about swimming and more, she said.
"They get up their on their own," she said. "That teaches a lot about responsibility and setting goals and working hard to reach those goals."
Quinones learned to swim when she was 6 months old and started competing when she was 7 after joining a summer class at the Mar Vista High School pool.
Kayla's mother, Jeanette, was a swimmer for Mar Vista High School.
"I wasn't nearly as good as my daughter," she said. "We're really excited that she's representing our community Imperial Beach at a Junior Olympic event, a big event in San Diego to get our city's name out there."
Czerwiec calls big family support a reason Kayla has succeeded while her family praises the coaching staff.
"She takes these kids under her wings and just loves them. She's more than a swim coach," said Kayla's grandfather, Alex Quinones, about Czerwiec.
Swimmers who start with the swim team often continue on to compete for the high school's water polo or swim team. That's why the school's swim team has won the South Bay Metro league championship for 11 of the past 12 years, Czerwiec said.
Athletes learn from Czerwiec and coaches like Michelle McDonald, 20, and Rick Ellison, 30, who both swam in the same Mar Vista High School pool when they were younger.
The IB Swim Team competes year-round, but the high school's swim team begins its season Feb. 19.
To join the IB Swim Team or high school team, call 619-628-6760.