From Lake Washington to Team USA

Piper Enge's Journey of Grit and Glory in Swimming

Piper Enge, a senior from Mercer Island High School, is not just any promising young swimmer. As she prepares to dive into the University of Texas at Austin’s prestigious swimming program, ranked second in the nation, her journey from Lake Washington's chilly waters to the pools of international competitions illustrates a tale of resilience and ambition.

Originally from Oregon, where she swam for the Lake Oswego Swim Club, Piper moved to Washington and continued her swimming career with the Mercer Island Beach Club, the Bellevue Club Swim Team, and eventually, the Mercer Island High School swim team. Over these formative years, Piper's favorite event emerged as the 100 breaststroke, a race she describes as the perfect blend of distance and intensity, embodying the “sprinter’s mindset” of quick, dominant performances.

However, it was Lake Washington that truly propelled Piper’s swimming career. During the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, when pools were closed, and training sessions were halted, Piper did not retreat. Instead, she embraced the open waters of the lake, a decision that not only maintained but enhanced her competitive edge. "Swimming in the lake during COVID, just to stay in the water, gave me a big advantage," Piper reflects. This gritty determination paid off significantly as she emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever, catapulting her into a season that would redefine her career.

In 2022, Piper attended her first international team trials, and there she made the cut for her first Junior National meet, representing the USA on an international stage—a moment of epiphany and affirmation for her. "That was the moment I realized I want to do this, and I CAN do this," she says, recounting her breakthrough. Her international representation didn’t stop there; Piper wore the USA colors in three different meets and participated in two training camps, with eyes set on more.

As Piper looks forward to her collegiate swimming career at Texas, her excitement is palpable. Unlike the relatively subdued swim meets in Washington, Texas offers an electrifying atmosphere. "Thousands of students come to watch, and the school goes all out," she notes, eager for the vibrant collegiate swimming scene. Her primary goal at UT is clear: to help the Longhorns clinch a national championship.

Balancing academics and athletics has always been a challenge, but Piper has managed it with a disciplined focus. "If you are at practice, you're at practice and not worrying about school and when you're at school, you’re focusing on the tasks at hand," she advises aspiring swimmers. This focus is something she plans to maintain as she adapts to a new training style and coaching at UT, a crucial step for her growth.

Piper’s biggest inspiration, swimmer Lilly King, once adorned the walls of her childhood room and now races beside her. This surreal transition from fan to competitor underscores Piper's own evolution in the sport. "Approaching the race, I try to bring nothing but joy and excitement," Piper shares, highlighting the importance of maintaining passion and enjoyment in the demanding sport of swimming.

As she prepares to move to sunny Texas, leaving behind Washington’s rain, Piper’s ultimate dream awaits: making the Olympic team. It's a goal she approaches step by step, mindful of avoiding burnout and keeping her love for the sport alive. Piper Enge’s journey is more than just about swimming; it’s about transforming challenges into stepping stones for success, powered by the waters of Lake Washington that first set her on this remarkable path.