BELLEVUE, Wash. — One year from now the U.S. Olympic swim team will be announced and there are currently two high school swimmers from western Washington that have qualified for the Olympic Trials.
In this week's Prep Zone, Chris Egan talks with one of the Olympic hopefuls.
Swim Coach Abi Liu knows what it takes to be great in the pool. In China, she won two national titles and was a silver medalist in the 1994 Asia Games. Now Liu spends her time coaching.
In 2021, she took over as the head coach of the Bellevue Club Swim Team and immediately built a bond with one of the star swimmers. "She trusted me from day one, I walked down the pool deck, and she threw herself at me," says Liu.
"I'm super thankful I put my trust in her right away, told her, 'This is where I want to get, and I know you can help me get there'," says 17-year-old Piper Enge.
Enge is one of the top high school swimmers in the country. "She's a competitor, she hates to lose," says Liu.
Her mom was a college swimmer, and while Enge tried playing all sports, she felt at peace in the pool. "A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer," says Enge. She is the top breaststroker in the class of '24.
At Mercer Island High School she's already won four individual state titles, two relay championships, and helped the Islanders make history when they won a team title.
"By the time we finished the meet, we had the highest point total in Washington history," says Enge.
She not only made state history in 2022, but she also posted the fifth-fastest time ever for a 15-year-old in the 100-meter breaststroke.
"She's never satisfied on where she is, she is always looking for what I can do next," says Liu.
Enge is in the pool two to three hours a day, in the weight room three to four times a week and the hard work is paying off. At the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, she represented the U.S. and placed first in the 100-meter breaststroke, first in the 4 x100 medley relay and third in the 200-meter breaststroke.
"This is why I show up every day, this is why I get up at 4:20 a.m. every day, lots of sacrifices, but it's worth it," says Enge.
Next year she will compete in the Olympic Trials in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, she says she's been dreaming about swimming at the Olympics for a long time.
"That would mean everything, but everyone puts in the work, and talent can only get you so far, it comes down to who wants it more," says Enge.
Coach Liu believes Piper has what it takes to make the Olympic team, but just qualifying for the trials is a huge honor in itself.
"If you make it to the semis of the U.S. trials, you are top 50 in the world, we are spoiled in this country, where we are so strong in a sport, and if you are not top eight, you're not mentioned, but if you look out compared to rest of world, you are really good, you are amazing," says Liu.
"Surround yourself with the best possible team you can, and you are going to get far, as long as you love what you are doing," says Enge.
Enge's teammate at Mercer Island and on the Bellevue Club Swim team Alexa McDevitt has also qualified for the Olympic Trials. KING 5 will have more on both of them as we get closer to the games.