Quaker Valley athlete of the week: Isabel Huang
Thursday, January 3, 2019 | 7:33 AM
School: Quaker Valley
Claim to fame: Isabel Huang’s bucket list is short on items, but high on hopes.
She entered the season wanting to break a school record and qualify for the WPIAL and PIAA meets. Huang has done the first two in the first month of her high school career by breaking Quaker Valley’s 100-yard backstroke record of 1 minute, 1.47 seconds by nearly a full second in 1:00.57.
A similar time in the WPIAL Class AA finals would likely put her in the top 10 of backstroke swimmers.
Have you always been a natural swimmer?
Not really. It took a couple years for me to really focus on it to be more competitive, and now I love it. It really grew on me the more I did it, and the more I’ve done it the better I’ve gotten and the more people I’ve met.
Was it a goal for you to break a school record this season?
It was kind of something I thought about. It was another goal like making it to WPIALs and states this year, but it was really a surprise, especially with it happening at one of the first meets.
What goes into your training?
I’m grateful that I do get to swim with the team and my club, which Coach Alexis (Glenn) lets me do. I do dry land training twice a week, too, which has been benefiting me as I get older. Usually, after school I swim for two hours. Some days are hard, and some are easier.
What is most important from a technique standpoint to excel in the backstroke?
A lot of technique goes into how your arms pull the water on the back hand of the stroke, which was something I’ve had to change a couple times in the last year to get into a rhythm that fit me.
What makes someone a great swimmer, being a top athlete or having excellent technique?
It’s a little bit of a combination of the two, but it’s at least a little bit more technique for me. I don’t like working out, so I don’t know if I’d be too athletic if I didn’t do a sport. I’d say a little more technique goes into it.
Are there any professional swimmers you look up to for inspiration?
When I was younger, and now, I was a big fan of Missy Franklin, because she swam backstroke, too. She retired, so that was sad for me. Katie Ledecky is also pretty big, and I like to watch how far ahead she gets in her events even though I’m not a distance swimmer like her.
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.