Quaker Valley athlete of the week: Halle Wagner
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 | 11:46 AM
School: Quaker Valley
Claim to fame: Halle Wagner used to dream about making it to the podium at WPIALs, and this year she did it four times.
Wagner placed seventh and eighth in the 100 and 200 freestyles races, respectively. She also qualified for states with Ella Fuener, Isabel Huang and Sophie Besterman in the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams with top-four finishes.
“I can definitely say it’s taken hard work and experience, so I’m super excited to place higher than I was seeded individually, and I’m really proud of what we did as a relay team,” Wagner said.
How does it feel to be going to states on the freestyle relay teams?
I think it’s going to be awesome. It’s an improvement from last year when we only went for one relay event. I think we can make some time improvements.
On a team with swimmers from two schools and some who practice more often with their club teams, how do you build chemistry with each other?
Between the four of us, it’s come naturally. Isabel is with her club team almost every day, and Sophie occasionally will be at Quaker Valley practices. Ella and I tend to be with the high school team all of the time. When we all come together, everything clicks.
How have you helped Ella become a key part of those relay teams?
Being that’s it’s her first year in these big meets, I think about what it was like for me as a freshman and how the excitement took over. I’ve talked to her about how we have nerves and how we turn that into adrenaline and good races for the team. … We all feel those nerves. It never goes away.
What’s your favorite individual event?
I really like freestyle as my general stroke. I made the WPIAL cut for the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle. It’s really a tie between the 100 and 200 freestyle.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of being a swimmer that fans probably don’t think about?
Swimming is a mental game. Sometimes people can be really good at it and can push through any pain and make their goals. As soon as something is off in your head and your nerves don’t turn into excitement, it can kind of throw your whole game off.
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
My brother Alex and I eat Gatorade chews before every race. They are these little gummies that are supposed to be an energy burst.
What do you love about this team?
I like how we’re big for a Class AA team, but it’s still small enough you know everyone pretty personally. That’s a big part of the structure of our team. I think that’s why we’re successful, and that played a big role in becoming section champs.
Do you have a favorite swimmer?
It’s hard to say one in particular. Obviously, Katie Ledecky is one of the best swimmers ever. She has so many records. She also goes to Stanford, keeps a 4.0 GPA, swam in the Olympics and for the school the whole time. That’s amazing.