Profile: Pia Atal’s return to competitive swimming

Formation of OPHS swim team reignites interest in competitive swim

Sophomore Pia Atal has been swimming since she was in diapers. At the age of one, Atal began her swimming journey in a Mommy and Me class. From that point on, swimming has become a major part of Atal’s life.

In the seventh grade, Atal’s swim aspirations were put on hold due to a hip injury. She did not return to swimming until recently.

“I hadn’t swam [until] the swim team came out. I thought I might as well try out, so I did. I made [the swim team] and now I’m back to swimming,” Atal said.

Atal demonstrates her abilities and growth as a swimmer at meets.

“Pia as a swimmer is very interested in how she can improve, puts in a lot of effort and brings her best at practice and meets. She has swam well this season and I am glad to have her on the team,” Head Swim Coach Calley Prezzano said.

Atal has made new friends and formed a new family with teammates.

“We have the same lane, [and] I am lucky to have her [there]. I enjoy spending time with her while swimming and also at school whenever I see her,” senior swimmer Nicole Syku said.

Even though the OPHS swim team is relatively new, the team has bonded through time spent together both during practices and meets, and outside of swimming-related


“We are all really close and we have a group chat that we text on constantly. We have a lot of team bonding events even for being such a new team. We had a beach day, we are having a team party this weekend, and we go to In-N-Out Burger together after meets,” Atal said.

High school swim meets consist of several events, with swimmers competing in a select few. Pia participates in four events at swim meets.

“I do 100-yard Freestyle, 100-yard Individual Medley, 200-yard Freestyle Relay and 200-yard Medley Relay,” Atal said.

Before joining the swim team, Atal never participated in the 100-yard Individual Medley at a swim meet.

“I remember the first time I did it I was really tired and I really struggled, but I kept practicing and practicing and I got better at it,” Atal said.

Swimming for the OPHS swim team has given Atal many opportunities to polish and improve her skills, and has allowed her to open many new doors to find what she truly enjoys.

“I got to try a lot of new things that I wouldn’t have tried before by being on the swim team,” Atal said.