WPIAL Hall of Fame induction a bittersweet moment for Bethel Park’s Emily Carter

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Saturday, February 18, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Emily Carter seems like a humble person.

In the pool, she became resolute.

Thanks in large part to her talent and tenacity as a Bethel Park swimmer, Carter will be inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame this spring as part of the 2023 class. She competed for four years at Bethel Park and three years at Stanford.

The list of WPIAL Hall of Fame inductees was revealed Jan. 18 in a news conference at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum inside the Heinz History Center. The induction banquet is June 2 at the DoubleTree in Green Tree.

Carter rates with the best swimmers ever to compete for the Black Hawks.

She led the Bethel Park girls swimming team to three WPIAL championships and consecutive state titles in 1998 and ‘99. During her stellar career, she won seven WPIAL and five PIAA individual gold medals.

As a high school natator, Carter set two WPIAL meet records (100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard medley relay) and one PIAA mark (200 medley relay), along with three pool and four school records. Her WPIAL record in the breaststroke event stood for 15 years.

A 2001 Bethel Park graduate, Carter said her induction into the WPIAL Hall of Fame, while celebratory, will be somewhat poignant.

“Western Pennsylvania has an incredible athletic tradition and has produced so many legendary athletes and coaches,” she said. “It is truly an amazing honor to be a part of that legacy and recognized among them. Swimming and growing up in Pittsburgh has shaped so much of who I am today.

“The timing of this honor is a bit bittersweet for me. With the recent passing of my dad, I am sad that he won’t be able to share this honor with me. As one of my biggest cheerleaders, I know he would have been so proud. And this will also be the last year I’ll get to spend significant amounts of time in my childhood hometown of Pittsburgh, so it means so much to me that I’ll have a place in Western Pennsylvania history.”

Carter was an 11-time High School All-American and is one of two Bethel Park swimmers to qualify for the Olympic Trials, joining Chelsey Bower of Ohio University in the 50 free in 2008.

She also was an outstanding student, a three-time Scholastic All-American, and a National Honor Society member who graduated from high school with a 4.3 GPA.

Carter was inducted into the Bethel Park Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.

“Swimming was my life in high school,” she said. “I probably didn’t have the high school experience of a typical teenager. I was singularly dedicated to my sport and sacrificed a lot to get to the level that I did. As I look back, I probably would tell my younger self to relax and have more fun, but I do feel so lucky to have been a part of the Bethel Park swimming community.

“Bethel Park swimming was my family and I have so many great memories and experiences, from the highs of our multiple team WPIAL and state wins, to the deep friendships and mentors that I gained, and all of the opportunities that swimming gave me to help launch me to where I am today.”

The Black Hawks girls swimming program has reeled in 30 WPIAL team championships in school history, including the three (1999, 2000, 2001) during Carter’s career. The man in charge back then was legendary coach Bill Kennedy.

“Bill played a huge role in shaping the Bethel Park women’s swimming program into the powerhouse that it was by the time I got to high school,” Carter said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coach and couldn’t have accomplished what I did without him as my coach.

“He was, and still is, a mentor and a friend. He understood me and my personality and how to push me to increasingly higher limits. And most importantly, he truly cared and was always there for me during the highs and the lows.”

Carter started swimming at a young age. It’s fair to say she could probably swim before she could crawl.

“I first touched the pool as an infant,” she said, “then took swim lessons from a very young age at both the YMCA and Bethel Park Recreation before starting to swim competitively at age 8. My family belonged to the former South Hills YMCA where we’d spend almost every summer day and I think I just fell in love with the feel of the water.”

Carter had many influential sources along the way in her phenomenal career in the pool.

“I don’t think there was one person that was an influence on my swimming career. I think the tradition and success of Bethel Park swimming and the amazing swimmers that came before me were all influences,” Carter said. “And definitely my coaches, Bill, as well as the many other coaches I had along the way were all big influences, Dave Becki and Kathy Jenkins Strock, to name a few.

“My brother Alan, who is two years younger, was also a great swimmer and we grew up together both sharing in our dedication to the sport. I was also extremely self-motivated and determined to accomplish lofty goals for myself. I told my mom that I wanted to go to Stanford at age 10 and it came true.”

Alan Carter also is a Bethel Park Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. He was one of the most formidable athletes in Bethel Park boys swimming history as a four-year letterman. He held two school records and won numerous WPIAL and PIAA medals.

The younger Carter sibling received a full scholarship to Notre Dame where he flourished during a successful swimming career.

Emily Carter graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a degree in economics.

It was a transitional time for the Bethel Park product.

“My fondest memories at Stanford were all outside of swimming,” she said, “meeting exceptional people from all over the world, letting loose and partying for the first time, and studying abroad in Germany.

“College is really where I made the transition from my swimming life to my post-swimming life. Stanford opened up a whole new world to me.”

Following graduation, Carter landed a job in San Francisco where she currently resides and works for Visa, leading an HR analytics team.

“I’ve also lived in Austin, Berlin, Frankfurt and Shanghai,” she said. “Travel is my passion and I frequently travel internationally for fun, most recently to New Zealand.

“My career started in finance, then I got my MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. Since then, I’ve been working at large global retail and tech companies in various roles.”

Carter is not involved in swimming these days and spends a large chunk of her free time outdoors (as opposed to the more limited confines of a natatorium).

“But I still live a very active lifestyle with my hiking, running and Crossfit,” she said, “and learning to play tennis.”

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