An Early Calling

Junior Isabella Dietz has loved swimming since she was young, and she has used that passion to find success in the pool.


Photo by Brian Wright

Dietz behind the blocks ready to race during the 2019 WPIAL Championships held at Pitt.

Arguably one of the most challenging parts of school has nothing to do with schoolwork at all— it can be simply getting out of bed in the morning. Rising before the sun and heading out the door is a struggle for most students — unless they’re on the Swimming and Diving Team. For junior swimmer Isabella Dietz, learning to be an early riser has proven integral to her success at competition.

“Time management plays a large role in my life in order to make sure I accomplish everything I need to get done,” said Dietz, who is accustomed to jumping in the pool before most of her friends roll out of bed in the morning.

During her freshman and sophomore years on the team, Dietz qualified for both the school’s WPIAL team and state team. She has competed for awards and titles at pools statewide, such as the University of Pittsburgh and Bucknell University.

Photo by Kara Mihm

Introduced to the pool when she was very young, Dietz soon became very familiar with the water and began to develop her career in swimming.

“I started swim lessons at the YMCA when I was three years old, but I joined the swim team at the YMCA when I was eight years old,” Dietz said. “This will be my ninth year competing.” 

It didn’t take long for Dietz to realize her passion for swimming and make it her primary focus throughout her childhood and teenage years. Once she jumped the water, she never wanted to get back out.

“I have always loved to be in the water ever since I can remember, and it did not matter if it was the pool, the ocean, or the lake,” she said. “I would spend hours swimming and playing, and my mom always had to bribe me to get out of the water. But I really started to get into the sport when I first joined the swim team. I immediately loved it and felt that it was where I belonged.”

Swimming is an especially strenuous sport, working just about every muscle group in the body. Like any other sport, time and practice are the two key factors to success. For Dietz, the time she dedicates to her practices amounts to an enormous portion of her free time. 

“At the moment, I spend around 14 to 15 hours training per week,” she said. “During swim season, however, I train around 18 to 19 hours per week, whether it be in the pool, CrossFit training, dry land training, or yoga.”

Photo by Brian Wright

Practices for swimming can vary, demanding an even greater commitment from team members. Dietz is in the water wherever and whenever she can be. She said her practices can vary from as early as 5:30 AM or as late as 8:00 PM and anywhere in between. At least once a week, the wake-up call for swimmers is before 5:00 AM.

After an early morning of intensive training, Dietz has an eight-hour school day. School on its own is a lot to take on, of course, but balancing a sport on top of academic priorities can be quite a challenge. 

“Because we train so much, balancing school and swim practices along with other activities can be very stressful,” she explained. “Although I do love swimming, my school work always comes first, and I have to make sure my grades are where they need to be before I can worry about getting in the pool. This is just a skill you learn over time and become accustomed to. For me, it’s now normal. It is also beneficial that most of my teammates are not only athletes but academic scholars, so we all have the same goals in mind.”

However, Dietz admitted that it can still be difficult to motivate her mind and body to put the work into every practice.

“This sport is not easy physically or mentally,” she said. “You have to refocus and remind yourself what you are working towards in the future. You have to remember that all of the training, the early mornings, and the hard sets are preparing you to swim your absolute best at future meets. All of the hard work that you are putting in now will pay off in the long run.”

photo by Brian Wright

Dietz will be turning to the next chapter of her swimming career not too far in the future, and she’s begun to ponder where her swimming and academic achievements will take her when it comes time to say farewell to North Allegheny.

“With two years left in high school, I would like to continue to compete at WPIAL and state championships, and I would also love to continue this passion at a collegiate level, as it has brought me so much happiness in my life,” she said. “I cannot imagine my life without it, and I think that swimming will always be a part of my life no matter what career path I decide to pursue.”