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Plum sophomore swimmer Taylor aims to improve on record-breaking times

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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Plum swimmer Devan Taylor takes part in a scrimmage Nov. 29, 2016, at Plum.

Devan Taylor’s face was bright red as she finished a vigorous swim last week. She said didn’t think her face had ever been that color in practice before.

The Plum sophomore always had the skill, but coach Shawn Haupt has witnessed one of his star pupils learn over the course of the offseason something that can only be taught from within.

“Devan would tell you she didn’t necessarily put in 100 percent (last year),” Haupt said of the freshman who broke the school record in the 100-yard breaststroke and was part of the 200 freestyle relay team that set the school record at WPIALs. “She relied on her talent and worked every once in a while. This year is a different Devan. I think she realizes she can do a lot more.”

Taylor, who has been swimming since age 6 and is the daughter of Fox Chapel swim coach Dan Taylor, committed herself to swimming nearly every single day, including for the Fox Chapel Killer Whales club team, of which her father is also a coach.

“I just tried to work hard and eat a lot healthier so I can go in and be better than what everyone wants me to be,” said Taylor, who also nearly broke the 200 IM school record set back in 1993.

“Last year was very new for me,” she added. “I was really excited to get the (breaststroke) record as a freshman. This year I want to (re-break) that and set the record in the 200 IM.”

Taylor will have plenty of chances to do so under Haupt, who plans to use her in her two strongest events in difficult matchups while placing her in other events in the easier meets, allowing her a chance to qualify for as many WPIAL events as possible.

Taylor broke her own school record at the WPIAL championships in February (1 minute, 6.14 seconds), and finished 19th in the PIAA championship preliminaries at Hershey, a mark she wants to better this season.

“I want to break the IM record,” she said. “I was so close to it last year at WPIALs. Going to states last year was such a great experience. … I would like to make the finals this year in the 100 breaststroke.”

In addition to her individual goals, Taylor expects again to be a part of the 200 free relay team, as well as the 200 medley relay that is gunning for the school record.

With a new dedication to practicing as hard as she plays, Taylor figures to re-write more than one page on the Plum swimming team’s record book before the season is through.

“It’s nice to see her hanging out with the kids on the team who are really hard workers,” Haupt said. “She’s gravitated toward that group, and they are all just feeding off each other. I’ve never seen her work this hard. … She knows she’s just going to have to do a little more if she wants to keep getting better and better. She is, and it’s fun to watch.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.

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