Adlan Hifri making a splash with Quaker Valley swimming in 1st year in United States

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Sunday, March 3, 2024 | 11:01 AM


It’s been a succession of firsts for Quaker Valley swimmer Adlan Hifri.

“This school year is my first year living in the United States, my first time to attend a public school, and my first experience on a U.S. swim team,” said Hifri, a junior. “I started my journey of living in the United States in July 2023.”

Hifri’s swimming background is unique as he and his family lived in Hong Kong before enrolling at Quaker Valley.

“His dad worked in Hong Kong,” QV coach Mercedes McCarthy said. “Adlan’s such an asset in our races. He’s a very respectful young man; he’s just a very nice kid.”

The 16-year-old Hifri grew up in Asia and spent most of his life abroad.

“I resided in Hong Kong for the past seven years,” Hifri said, “and before that lived in Japan, Shanghai and Thailand. I have lived in Asia for almost my entire life as my family accompanied my dad on his international job assignments.”

Hifri’s father, Samir, is president of Covestro U.S., the leading producer of polymers and high-performance plastics in the United States and around the world.

A talented swimmer, Hifri also dove into the Asian culture while living in Hong Kong. He can speak Mandarin Chinese, French and English.

“The experience of living across the world is like no other,” he said. “The diversity of the international community, the unlimited beaches, unique city skyline, incredible hiking, and countless unique holidays are only a few of the many things to experience when you live in Hong Kong.

“Some of my favorite aspects were the easily accessible and amazingly safe public transportation, world renown concerts, daily live sports games and endless nature to explore.”

Hifri’s swimming training at Hong Kong International School began in the sixth grade and continued through his sophomore year of high school. He learned the value of working hard and the rewards that come with it.

“I swam not only for the high school, but a club team called the Hong Kong Stingrays,” he said. “The competition was extremely intense, and the workouts were exhausting.

“This hard work with an international coaching staff and diverse team taught me the values of hard work, time management and teamwork. This is what has made me the athlete that I am today.”

Hifri actually kicked off his time in the pool in Japan as a 4-year-old; he later participated in other sports, as well.

“As I got older, I was interested in trying different sports,” he said. “I played soccer and tennis but ended up starting (on the) rugby (team) in my sophomore year. Rugby is my second sport, and I still play it during the swimming offseason.”

At Quaker Valley, the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Hifri specializes in the breaststroke event.

“Adlan’s a phenomenal breaststroker,” McCarthy said. “He’s used to longer breaststroke races (in Hong Kong).”

Hifri is the third oldest of four siblings. His older brother, Elias, is taking a gap semester from Penn State and currently doing a “shadowing experience” in sports rehabilitation. He plans to join the masters swim team at the Sewickley Valley YMCA.

His older sister, Nayla, is a freshman member of the University of San Diego women’s swim program and is a team captain in training. Hifri’s younger brother, Elam, competes for the Sewickley YMCA swim team.

“My entire family has been swimming since a young age,” Hifri said. “Everyone is still involved in swimming one way or another.”

Hifri and his family now are Sewickley residents.

“It took extensive research to choose our new home and school system,” said Hifri’s mother, Casey. “QVSD had a good reputation and after a tour of the schools we were confident and positive it was a good fit for us. Living closer to family is wonderful and we are making up for the time we spent apart.”

“The U.S. has changed a great deal since we left 16 years ago. It will take time and effort to adapt to our new surroundings. The repatriation and culture shock is real.”

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