Trib HSSN boys swimmer of the week: Belle Vernon’s Ian Shahan

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Saturday, December 28, 2019 | 12:32 AM


Ian Shahan entered the 2019-20 high school swimming season as the hunted.

The Belle Vernon standout set a gold standard at the close of his sophomore season in March with championships in both the 100-yard butterfly and 100 freestyle at the WPIAL championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool and the state finals at Bucknell University.

“There definitely was a feeling of accomplishment,” Shahan said. “I felt good after the races knowing that I put my heart and soul and every ounce of training into them to get the results that I wanted.”

Shahan also fared well at states as part of the 200 medley relay that placed fifth and the 200 free relay that took eighth.

“There is some pressure coming out of my sophomore year with those wins, and it does put a target on my back, but I think it’s a good thing,” Shahan said. “It drives me to be the best that I can be.”

Shahan, who already is qualified for WPIALs in several events from dual meets this month, said he is feeling good about where he stands right now as the calendar turns to opportunities in January. That includes the annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships Jan. 25 at Derry.

Shahan won the 100 fly and 100 backstroke at last year’s county meet.

“Looking back at this time last year, I was a lot slower than I am now,” Shahan said. “It’s a good sign to see how far I’ve come over this past year. Hopefully, it leads to a good run up to states.”

Shahan was heavily involved in a pair of top-level meets recently with his club team — the Mark J. Braun Fall Classic at the Spire Institute in Ohio the weekend before Thanksgiving and the USA Swimming Speedo Junior Nationals in Atlanta two weeks ago.

Against some of the region’s top swimmers at Spire, Shahan, representing Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics, placed fourth in the 50 free (20.95), third in the 100 free (46.70) and sixth in the 100 fly (50.90).

He said both were good tests of his progress from last year’s high school successes as well as the extensive training he put in throughout the late spring, summer and fall. He got into more long-course swimming over the summer, and, he said, he was excited to see a lot of time drops in his events.

Shahan’s success at the WPIAL and state level last March added to his strong start in high school swimming as a freshman in 2018 when he finished as the WPIAL champion in the 100 back and the WPIAL runner-up in the 100 fly before taking second in both events at states.

“He’s just as fast, if not faster, than this point last year,” Belle Vernon coach Robert Reda said. “He’s showing all the signs of the hard work from the offseason. He’s doing the work in the pool and the weight room. Hopefully, that translates into some really good swims come WPIALs and states.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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