It’s not every day that students can represent the country at an international competition, but after years of training and practice, junior Isabella Taylor competed in the United States Lifesaving Association’s (USLA) National Competition in Virginia Beach August 7-10 and earned a spot with Team USA to compete at the International Surf Rescue Challenge in Durban, South Africa Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.
Taylor first found herself swimming when she joined the Heritage Aquatic team at the age of five, where she first met Coach Nobutaka Tan and began her years training with him. Eleven years later, Taylor’s swimming regiment has changed slightly, with practices six days a week – 3:30-6:00 PM after school and Saturdays from 8-11 AM, but she doesn’t stop there. As if hours in a pool every day wasn’t enough for her, Taylor’s swimming skills have surpassed the edges of a pool and into open water, where she trains with her open water group for three hours every Sunday.
“Swimming in open water allows me to change my swimming style from the pool, which is basically going back and forth, and into the open ocean where there are no lanes and no timing, just pure competition,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s father used to compete in the USLA competitions when he was younger, which sparked her interest in the same contest. Although she has been competing at the national level since she was nine, this year Taylor finally secured the gold in the Paddle Board and Ironman/Ironwoman events, as well as her spot on the national team.
Taylor drags her surfboard out of the ocean as part of her events in Virginia Beach. “I see myself continuing with USLA for the next several years in order to hopefully attend more international competitions,” Taylor said. (Photo submitted by Isabella Taylor)
In order to compete for Team USA, national coaches selected Taylor based on not only her performance at this USLA nationals, but her other regional and state swimming placings as well.
“Isabella is a dedicated swimmer and very focused,” Coach Tan said. “She is also a great team player with awesome personality.”
At the international competition, Taylor will be competing in a range of events, including the swimming, running, paddling, Ironman/Ironwoman and relay events. Each country sends two members to participate in each event, and Taylor landed spots in almost half of the categories.
“It is an incredible opportunity to compete against some of the best athletes in lifesaving, and I’m so grateful for all my coaches and friends that have supported me to this point,” Taylor said.