Quaker Valley’s Huang focusing on details, technique in defense of WPIAL gold

Friday, December 27, 2019 | 6:04 PM

Isabel Huang’s swimming is a thing of beauty, Quaker Valley coach Alexis Glenn said.

The Sewickley Academy sophomore excels for the Quakers on a cooperative swim team, but she wasn’t always a natural in the water. If not for her parents’ encouragement, Huang said, she likely would have dropped the sport years ago.

The more time Huang spent in pools, the more often she placed first in races. She wasn’t surprised in her freshman year when she won WPIAL gold medals in the 200 IM (2 minutes, 7.34 seconds) and 100 backstroke (58.13).

“We looked at times from the past year to know what it would take to qualify for states, and I knew from that, that I could win,” Huang said. “There’s a lot of people at WPIALs and a lot of cheering, and all of that really gets the adrenaline going. Your team is there, so there is a lot of support, and I really like swimming because of the people and having fun with everyone.”

Huang is getting faster this year, Killer Whales club team coach Dan Taylor said.

She recently posted personal bests in seven events, shortly after battling the flu, which kept her away from both teams for a week.

“Isabel has been with us since September, works really hard in practice and I was really impressed with those meets because she couldn’t train much,” Taylor said. “… I’m still getting to know her in workouts, but she’s clearly a very good racer as we’ve seen.”

Huang splits time between the high school and club teams, which gives her the benefit of receiving instruction from multiple coaches.

She also gets more training in with the Killer Whales.

“All of my swimmers on a club team can go to those practices,” Glenn said. “We use the Sewickley YMCA. We’re only able to use it for 90 minutes, and we only use three lanes when we have diving. It’d be nearly impossible to get a really good practice in if we always had more than 30 swimmers.”

Glenn immediately noticed how refined Huang’s swimming was at the start of her high school career.

“You could tell she was going to be successful,” Glenn said. “And now she’s become phenomenal.”

Huang’s focus this year, if she is to repeat at WPIALs and place higher at states, is on fine-tuning the smaller details of her technique.

“She’s easy to coach and very receptive,” Taylor said. “As with a lot of new kids to the club team, she listens more than she talks. As they are more comfortable, they give more feedback, and that feedback to swimmers evolves into more of a conversation.”

Huang wants to be a repeat WPIAL champion, and she plans to space out the high school and club meets she competes in toward the end of the season to better prepare for each event.

“I’m really excited, overall, to swim again in those events,” Huang said. “I’d like to see how much I’ve grown, and it’d be fun to start a streak (at WPIALs). If I were to win a state championship, I really would be excited. I’d definitely be really happy if I ever won there.”


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