On the biggest stage of the 2022-23 high school swimming season, the PIAA Class 3A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University, Conestoga junior Jake Wang gave his best performance of the year, winning two individual gold medals with PR clockings and contributing to the Pioneers’ first-place 400 free relay team.
Wang was named PIAA 3A Boys Swimmer of the Meet, becoming the first Conestoga swimmer to receive that honor at States since Brendan Burns in 2019.
Three weeks earlier, at the PIAA District 1 3A Championships, Wang was named the Boys Swimmer of the Meet for the second year in a row, winning both the 100 breast and the 200 IM.
For his dominance both in the postseason and throughout the season, Wang has been named the 2022-23 Daily Local News Boys Swimmer of the Year.
Wang’s best swim at States was the 200 IM, in which he posted a PR of 1:46.
“I was super excited just after the race when I saw the time, since it was my first time dipping under 1:48, completely skipping over 1:47 as well,” said Wang. “To drop that much is always exciting, and being able to celebrate and splash the water is all fun and the most amazing part of it all.
“The most important aspect of my 200 IM swim was definitely going faster in backstroke and hanging on as much as possible in the freestyle. I really focused on utilizing my underwaters as much as possible so I didn’t use so much energy on swimming.”
One day later, he won the gold medal in the 100 breast at States with a PR 53.92.
“Going under 54 was my goal this season, and what a perfect way to do so, at the big audience of States,” said Wang.
The same day that he won the 100 breast, Wang led off the Pioneers’ first-place 400 free relay (3:04.51).
“Leading off is always my favorite thing in a relay, since I’m much more of a lead-getter than a catcher-upper,” said Wang. “Also, once you’re done leading off, it is super fun to be able to cheer on your teammates for the rest of the race, which was my favorite part of the relay.”
“Jake gave a phenomenal effort at States, he left no business unfinished,” said Conestoga boys swimming coach Mark Tirone.
Wang does not know Burns, who won the Boys Swimmer of the Meet at States in 2019, but said, “I am joining amazing company (in Burns), and it’s just such an honor to even be mentioned in the same breath as him. I have heard of all of his accomplishments and great swimming for Conestoga.”
Wang started competitive swimming when he was 6 years old at the Lionville Community YMCA and then moved to the Suburban Swim Club when he was 10. Wang still swims there today, and he said his most influential swimming center has been the renowned coach Charlie Kennedy.
“Charlie has coached me for a long time and shaped me into the swimmer I am today,” said Wang. “My parents also greatly inspire me, figuring out my game plans for my swims and calculating ideal splits for me before every meet. The one thing in common with both of them is that they’ve taught me never to lose hope and to stay strong and do my best.”
Wang’s grandfather, Zonglu Qu, swam for the Chinese National Team as a breaststroker during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“He came to the States to visit us a couple of times,” said Wang. “During those visits, he watched some of my swim practices and meets, including the 2016 Middle Atlantic Junior Olympics. He also gave me some fine advice on the breaststroke techniques.”
Wang’s favorite swimming venue is the University of Maryland’s pool in College Park, Md., where the Suburban Seahawks competed (and Wang excelled) in the Potomac Valley NCAP Invitational last December.
“I have so many great memories from meets there and I’ve had many great swims there,” said Wang. “My favorite memory at that pool is definitely just being able to spend time with all my teammates and race with them. Usually in high school swimming, my teammates and I don’t race together in the same heats, but at club meets, we’ll have two or three swimmers in each heat, increasing the friendly competitiveness which pushes all of us.”
While Wang has broken many club team records and made high level cuts like Summer Junior Nationals and NCSAs, the swimming accomplishment outside of Conestoga he is most proud of is making the USA Swimming National Select Camp with his time in the 100 breast long course.
“This camp was extremely prestigious because it was filled with the top under 18 kids in the nation,” said Wang. “I had a great time there.”
Currently, Wang has been focusing on his backstroke.
“Making sure that my stroke is as efficient as possible and maximizing the rate at which I spin my arms was extremely important for me to go fast in the 200 IM,” said Wang.
Outside of the pool at Conestoga, Wang belongs to the school’s Asian American Culture Club and has played the piano for a number of years.
“Though I have not played (piano) in a while, my favorite (performance) piece is definitely Rondo Alla Turca by Mozart,” said Wang.
Wang committed to the admissions process at Yale University this past February, and plans to swim for the Bulldogs. In the classroom, Wang’s favorite courses are math and history.
“In college, I’d like to major in either something in finance or law,” said Wang. “I am interested in something in the finance world or being a lawyer.”
Fun facts – Jake Wang
Favorite book: Maze Runner by James Dashner.
Favorite author: James Dashner.
Favorite TV show: The Office.
Favorite movie: 1917.
Favorite athlete: James Harden.
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Till I Collapse.
Favorite team: Philadelphia 76ers.
Favorite place to visit: Hawaii.
Favorite pre-meet meal: Chicken parm.
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