The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Junior Juggernaut: Davina Huang

Diving into Huang’s competitive swim journey and commitment to Harvard
Junior Davina Huang swims in freestyle during a meet.
Used with permission | Photo courtesy of Davina Huang
Junior Davina Huang swims in freestyle during a meet.

As she boarded the plane to her next swimming competition, nine-year-old junior Davina Huang was accompanied by her teammates and older brother, MVHS alum ‘21 Roderick Huang. This was the first time Davina and Roderick were heading to a race without their parents. As an older sibling, Roderick had to look after his sister, making sure that Davina didn’t forget her swim parka in the hotel or next to the pool. With her brother cheering her on from the bleachers, Huang was already participating in national competitive events from a young age.

Throughout Davina’s competitive swimming career, Roderick has noticed her talent and witnessed her growth. He had introduced her to swimming, the sport he enjoyed the most out of various others that he tried, such as basketball and tennis. When Davina was old enough, it felt natural for her to follow Roderick to swim school and start learning the sport herself. As the years went by, the siblings attended practice and competitions together for 10 years, until Roderick graduated from MVHS and left for MIT to join the university’s Division III Varsity swim team.

“We had to wake up at 5 a.m. for morning practices,” Roderick said. “But it is always good to have someone else also recover at that time. So even when times are hard, we’re in it together. I feel every sibling relationship is very similar to that, you are never alone basically.”

At swim meets, Roderick and Davina were separated by age and gender, but they were able to build a strong connection with each other due to their shared dedication to swimming, which has also allowed them to learn important lessons and skills. They have remained each other’s biggest supporters throughout the years.

Graphic by Daphne Huang and Arushi Singh

“Swimming teaches you a lot — not only learning how to stay healthy but also how to socialize with your friends and know what it means to have fun while putting the hard work into something we practice,” Roderick said. “In the beginning, it would be like an hour of practice every day. But now that she is in high school, it is about two to three hours every day, so she has grown in gaining discipline.”

Davina started swimming competitively for the Santa Clara Swim Club in 2013 where she has broken several records, establishing her as an esteemed swimmer. She is currently ranked in seventh place in class of 2025 Women’s Swimming in California and 45th place in class of 2025 nationally according to Swimcloud. Davina’s favorite stroke is also her best, butterfly, and she set a record for the 200 meter butterfly at her club back in August 2023 with a time of 2:14.79. The first person who recognized her potential was Coach Abi Liu from her previous club, Peak Swimming, who said that Davina had good technique and encouraged her to join the club’s team. Over the years, as Davina matured as a swimmer and her dedication to the sport strengthened, her family has been a constant support for her.

“My brother would drive me to practice every day and he has personal experience, so he’s been a big supporter through the whole journey and it’s easier to connect with your siblings,” Davina said. “My dad took videos every time I swam so I have those. He used to take videos of every single meet, so I have a bunch of little kid videos of me. I watched videos from that time and I’m so bad but it’s part of the process.” 

As she leveled up and honed her skills, her talent soon captured the attention of Santa Clara Swim Club Coach Kevin Zacher. He recognized that Davina has a “good feel for the water” and saw immense potential in her swimming, especially in the butterfly stroke. Under Zacher’s guidance, Davina was able to greatly improve her competitive swimming skills and her consistent hard work led to her earning recognition in the swimming community. One of the most memorable achievements for Davina was when she got nominated for an award.

Graphic by Daphne Huang and Kalyani Puthenpurayil

“Every year [Pacific Swimming] hosts a banquet and I got nominated for the award of ‘Most successful 15-year-old female swimmer long course,’” Davina said. “I got that award. That was fun and I got a lot of trophies.”

Within her decade-long swim journey, Davina has overcome challenges, especially during COVID-19. As a freshman at that time, Davina felt demotivated to attend practices, though competitive swimming requires many hours of practice each week.

“When we were coming out of COVID-19, I lost some of the motivation to do more hours of swimming per week,” Davina said. “A lot of the time, I didn’t go to practice, but then my coach and my friends were just like, ‘Hey, you should come to practice more often.’ And I did.”

Zacher had recognized that Davina was facing some struggles during this period of her swim career and provided her with guidance to attend more training. He discussed Davina’s goals and future with her, which helped to motivate her to swim more often. Davina is focused on the student-athlete path and after she continued to show her dedication to the sport, she has committed to Harvard’s Class of 2029 Division I Swim team. Roderick, who went on a similar path, says that both he and Davina enjoy the student-athlete life because it helps to ensure that he’s healthy and fit but also is learning a lot at school and gaining new opportunities and experiences.

Davina has a lot of events coming up, such as the USA Swimming Junior National Championships in December in Chicago, which is a competition that brings together the best swimmers 18 years and younger. She will also be working to qualify for the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials which will be held next June, where the candidates for the USA team at the 2024 Paris Olympics are selected. With swimming at Harvard in her future, Zacher is confident that Davina will be able to continue achieving success in the sport. 

“At Harvard, Davina will do great things, in the pool and in life,” Zacher said. “She has the potential to continue to improve. With her strong work ethic and drive, she can contribute to Harvard’s team immensely and help them win conference championships. I want Davina to follow her dreams and be the best athlete and person she can be.”

About the Contributors
Kalyani Puthenpurayil, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Kalyani is currently a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for El Estoque. She previously served as a sports editor and is a midfielder on the field hockey team at MVHS. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music and spend time with her little brothers and friends.
Arushi Singh, Staff Writer
Arushi Singh is currently a junior and is a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing the piano, and dancing.
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