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Walp swims at D-11 meet

This season at the District 11 swimming meet, Catasauqua’s Maliya Walp was used to being viewed as a lone participant or the proverbial “lone wolf.”

Walp has represented Catasauqua the past two seasons in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, and the Rough Riders sophomore has improved her times from one season to the next. Recently, Walp finished sixth in the 100 backstroke (27.69) and 14th (107.16) in the 50 freestyle. Both times were lowered by over a second.

Technically, Walp isn’t totally alone. She works out and swims with Northampton’s swim club as well as with the high school.

Still, she has overcome the anxieties of representing her school and turned any fears into a quiet sense of confidence.

“I feel better about it this year,” said Walp. “I am more confident and my times have been better. The 50 free is the harder thing to do, but I decided to just go for it. I worked hard to improve my backstroke, and it really has been positive for me.”

Walp also has battled through a shoulder injury incurred last season. She had been sidelined part of the volleyball season with it, but has overcome any lingering effects.

“Last year, it was more of an issue,” she reflected. “This year, I have been working to build up the muscles again. I feel more comfortable with it.”

Amy LeFever, who coaches Walp for the Kids and also is a volunteer coach on the high school team, believes Walp is on the precipice of a rising career as well as her overall maturity.

“Over the past few years, Maliya has grown in so many ways in her swimming and personality,” noted LeFever. “Her ability to succeed as an independent swimmer for Catasauqua has been a challenge.

“Not every student athlete can have the self-motivation to most of time race by themselves against a clock. Maliya jumped in with both feet with a goal to conquer this challenge. Every time she races, you can see her love for the sport and willingness to do whatever it takes to do better. Even during a time drop, it is a celebration, a time to set a new goal, and to come up with a way to get to that new goal.”

Walp had played out her coach’s vision.

She’ll swim for the Kids club and then take some time off before beginning a busy summer schedule, which usually takes her to several states along the way.

She began swimming at the age of two and was swimming competitively at the age of five. Walp started in programs at the Allentown YMCA and then joined the Whitehall Waves.

It has been a meteoric 13-year climb for Walp, who plans to continue her volleyball career as well as running the 400 for the track team this spring.

Walp plans to stay in her lane through a consistent work ethic despite not having her own high school program.

“Catty may want to start a team, but we don’t have a pool,” offered Walp. “I don’t know if there would be enough interest. My friends are proud of what I am doing, and they support me.

“I accomplished a lot this season, and it drives me to do more. I just got out there every day, and continue to believe in myself.”

And Walp will accomplish more on her own.