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The City Journals

‘The Backstroke Boys,’ star performer Amy Chung, part of Taylorsville’s swim team

Feb 18, 2021 02:34PM ● By Greg James

Taylorsville swimmers endured a difficult season that included shutdowns and cancelations. (Photo courtesy of Mary Ward)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The swim team at Taylorsville has a wide variety of skill levels, something that their head coach takes great pride in.

“You can be on the swim team and you really don’t need to know how to swim,” Warriors head coach Mary Ward said. “I can fix that.”

In fact 15 years ago when Ward began coaching at Taylorsville she did not know how to swim very well.

“I think most kids learn to swim even before they remember. I had to learn the strokes myself so I appreciate the struggle. I tease them that if anyone goes to state it is going to be in the breaststroke, it’s my worst stroke. I have had to analyze and analyze it so I can teach the kids. It is going to be Murphy’s Law.” Ward said.

The Warriors had over 40 student-athletes on the team this season, some are very good swimmers and some are just starting out. 

“I am so incredibly proud of this team, to say that this season was interesting and difficult was an understatement. We did not know what was going to happen from week to week. In fact, we did not know if we were even going to have a season to begin with,” Ward said.

The swim season was delay in November when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert paused all extracurricular activities at the school level for two weeks. 

“It was hard to get into a rhythm. The fact that these kids hung in there and were flexible and patient. They did everything we asked and trusted the process.” she said.

Junior Amy Chung posted many of the team’s fastest times. Her 25.44 time in the 50 freestyle is the fourth fastest in the state. She also set top times on the team in the 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 200 free, and 200 individual medley.

“She (Chung) is an amazing human. She is dedicated and has such perseverance and grit. I can take no credit for the talent she shows up with. She is a fierce competitor,” Ward said.

Chung is within tenths of a second of breaking the school record in the 50 free and has several opportunities to continue swimming after high school. She has narrowed her choices to armed forces schools.

“As team captain she holds our team together,” Ward said.

Chung is one of 10 swimmers that will represent Taylorsville at the Utah High School Activity Association 6A state swim meet scheduled for Feb. 19-20 at Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center. The association decided to split the state meet into classifications to reduce the exposure during the pandemic.

Sophomore Jaci Huo scored the girls fastest time in the 500 free at 5 minutes 57.6 seconds.

The boys team’s top times this season include William Cooper in the 50 and 100 freestyle, 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, Dillon Nguyen in the 100 backstroke, Benjamin Eberly in the 100 breaststroke, 200 free, and 500 free.

The boys team earned the nickname “The backstroke boys.” The team enjoyed supporting each other throughout the year.

“This is a wonderful team. We had kids that could barely swim at the start of the season and now they are entering the 100 fly. They are not scared of it and they want to do better,” Ward said.

“I am very lucky to work in the Granite School District,” Ward said. “I have a pool at my disposal. It was tough this year. They gave me guidelines and I submitted plans to the administration to run practices and meets. The fact that they held it together during COVID through all of the craziness and kept their head in the game. They were all very supportive of each other. I am overwhelmed with how proud I am of them.”