Plum swimmer Taylor commits to James Madison
Friday, September 28, 2018 | 8:27 PM
Devan Taylor is laser focused on her senior swim season at Plum.
The school record holder in two individual events and one relay is hoping to improve upon the accomplishments of a successful junior campaign that saw her earn another WPIAL medal in the 100-yard breaststroke and secure an eighth-place finish in the event at states.
She also recently secured her future beyond high school as she made a verbal commitment to swim for the Division I women’s program at James Madison.
“As soon as I got there for my visit, they welcomed me and made me feel at home and a part of their family,” Taylor said. “What (coach Dane Pedersen) does with his swimmers and the program overall is amazing. It’s going to be great to be a part of that. Plus, there is such a positive vibe on campus.”
Taylor also showed interest in the academic and swim programs at Boston College, Washington & Lee and East Carolina.
“I had a range of everything,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she got the ball rolling over the summer as she reached out to several schools.
“(Coach Pedersen) reached back, and he felt I would be a good fit,” she said. “When we met and talked, I also realized it would be a perfect fit.”
Taylor is set to make her decision final on Nov. 14, the first day of the National Letter of Intent signing period for swimming.
“I am excited for her, and I am excited for (James Madison) to have her,” Plum swim coach Shawn Haupt said.
Taylor said she wanted to make the decision and have the weight of the process off her shoulders.
“As soon as I got back from my visit, I knew,” Taylor said. “The next day, I called and verbally committed. I also didn’t want to wait and possibly lose the opportunity. There are only so many scholarships a program can give out.”
Taylor said her decision has made her even more motivated for the season.
“Both (boys and girls) teams have a chance to do great things, and it’s exciting to be a part of that,” she said.
Taylor is gunning for her fourth trip to the PIAA championships at Bucknell in as many seasons.
She achieved her best finish at states in March as she took eighth overall in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 4.47 seconds. She moved up 15 spots from her 23 rd -place finish in the event as a sophomore.
“She wants to get on the actual podium and not just stand next to the podium,” Haupt said.
Those who finish eighth in an event at states stand on the pool deck surface and not on one of the numbered podium steps.
Taylor’s performance in the finals of the 100 breast came after she lowered her own school record in the preliminaries (1:04.13).
She also owns the school record in the 200 individual medley (2:09.64), and she came within four one-hundredths of a second from that mark at states and placed 22nd.
“Devan left last season on a high,” said Haupt, who feels Taylor has a shot at the school records in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles.
“She got everything she expected and probably a little more. I think she has that same attitude coming back. She has the potential to do it again and do even more.”
Among Taylor’s goals for this season is to see others from the Plum teams qualify for states.
The girls 200 medley relay came close to making it to states in March as they finished seventh and earned a medal at WPIALs with a school-record time of 1:50.26. The previous record was set in 1992.
Relay team members Delaney White, Charlotte Jones and Alex Smith also return this season.
“It’s an amazing feeling to swim at states. Not everyone gets that opportunity,” Taylor said. “It’s a great experience. We were so close last year, so hopefully, we can make it this year.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at email@example.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.