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Haverford High’s Zach Given is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

Zach Given

Given, a senior captain for the Fords (9-1), is a two-time PIAA state qualifier as the backstroker for Haverford’s boys 200 medley relay.  He helped the 2019 relay earn an eighth-place finish at the PIAA State Championships with a time of 1:34.28, which earned All-American Consideration.  This winter, he is a District 1 automatic qualifier this year for the 50 free and 100 backstroke, and swam Districts Consideration times in the 100 free, 100 fly, and 200 IM.  As of Feb. 9, he ranked second in the Central League in the 100 back and 50 free.  Haverford swimming head coach Matt Stewart said, “Zach has been an excellent leader, and he is one of our hardest workers on the team.”

Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?

A: This season I have really been focusing on consistency in every practice and every meet. I haven’t focused on any event in particular, but just trying to put forth my best effort in each practice throughout the season to try to make the most of my senior year.

Q: How do you view your leadership role on the team? 

A: I view being a senior and a captain on the team as an important role both in and out of the pool. My goal was to make it as much of a fun and inclusive atmosphere as I could and show the underclassmen what it’s like to be a part of a team.

Q: What has been your favorite memory of the season to date?

A: My favorite memory from the season was the Garnet Valley meet, our first meet of the year. The energy the entire meet was awesome and showed how important spirit is for a team. I feel it helped carry us to win that meet and set us up for success for the rest of the season. 

Q: What sparked your initial interest in competitive swimming? Who have been your most influential swimming mentors and why?

A: I started swimming with Hilltop Swim Club when I was young and the seniors made their own cheers and were always having fun around the pool, which made me want the same thing. When I reached the high school level, My sister was a big influence because she was a senior on Haverford when I was a freshman.  She showed me what the team was about and it really opened my eyes to the competitive side and gave me the drive to succeed. From a coaches standpoint, Kathryn McKeone and Sally Wolfe from Lower Merion Aquatic Club and Matt Stewart from Haverford have all enabled me to become the swimmer I am today.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?

A: We typically practice late at night.  We don’t have our own pool, so practices are 7:30-9:30 Monday-Thursday. We usually do a three day training cycle; endurance, active rest, and quality, but there is a variation of sets within each day so it’s never the same thing twice. It is a lot of work put in by Coach Stewart every day and has allowed the team to really grow as swimmers.

Q: Last winter, you were the backstroker on the Fords’ 200 medley relay, which earned an eighth-place finish at the PIAA State Championships with a time of 1:34.28, which earned All-American Consideration. What is your most vivid memory of that performance at States – can you share it with us?

A: Our goal all year was to break the school record and medal at States. When we saw the time on the board of 1:34.28 in prelims, we went crazy and hugged behind the blocks because we knew we hit our goal we worked all year for and that was a great feeling.  

Q: What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?

A: Bucknell is my favorite venue because I don’t travel much out of the Central League for meets but Bucknell is so much nicer than anywhere I’ve swam and the meets there are always a lot of fun.

Q: What is your favorite academic course at Haverford High? What do you think you’d like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?

A: My favorite class is AP Chemistry because it’s a year-long course so information isn’t rushed to be learned and we can get a more in-depth understanding of the concepts we learn. I plan on majoring in Nursing in college and maybe continue with that into pediatrics in the future.

Fun facts – Zach Givens

Favorite TV show: Psych.

Favorite movie: Avenger: Infinity War.

Favorite athlete: Caeleb Dressel.

Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Can’t Hold Us (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis).

Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.

Favorite place to visit: Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda.

Favorite pre-meet meal: Egg and cheese on a bagel.

Family members: parents Jason and Jen, younger brother Kyle, older sister Maggie.

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)

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