by Mike Shaw
Initially, swimming was just a way for Alex Biehl to get in better shape for his eighth-grade soccer season. At that point, the Weddington High athlete never imagined that he would become a state champion swimmer.
Now, fast-forward to 2011.
Biehl was off to a quick start, which was just what he wanted. Next, the turn – perfect. He knew he was in a great position as he swam to the touch pad, but as he took a breath he noticed he was falling behind.
That’s when Biehl’s determination kicked in.
“I put my head down, kicked as hard as I could and finished hard into the wall. I looked up at the board to see that No. 1 next to my name,” said Biehl. “All the hard work finally paid off.”
Not only did he finish the state meet with a time of 21.80 seconds to claim first place in the 50-yard freestyle, he also had a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.86, earning him the title of Union County Weekly’s Boys Swimmer of the Year.
His performance in the regional meet was equally impressive as he finished in first place in the 100 butterfly and second place in the 50 freestyle.
Just a year earlier, Biehl experienced disappointment at the state meet when he finished sixth in the 50 freestyle and eighth in the 100 butterfly.
“I was determined to make this one count,” said Biehl. “I trained hard for a year to get to that point, and nothing was going to stop me this year.”
The feat hardly surprised Warriors coach Anne Lee, who added that Biehl’s determination translates to the classroom as well.
“He is self-motivated, disciplined and a hard worker,” Lee said. “He works as hard at his academics as he does sports. He is an excellent student with a very high GPA (3.2).”
Biehl will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall and wants to major in business and finance. He has decided not to swim in college.
Even though he has every right to brag, he remains humble.
“There are millions of other swimmers that put in the effort and the time that I do,” said Biehl. “I’m very blessed in that it paid off in a big way, but for the most part, every person that I swim with works just as hard or harder than I do.”