In the pool, Paige Taber is a prime example of precision in motion. The ultra-skilled 14-year-old Independence High swimmer moves through the water like a finely calibrated machine. However, out of the pool she’s not quite as coordinated with all her movements.
A misstep while dancing at home in the kitchen on a Friday night back in February nearly derailed Taber’s freshman season.
She suffered a serious injury to her left ankle that forced her to sit out nearly two months.
Despite, the setback Taber performed spectacularly once she got back in the pool.
The 2019 BVarsity All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year placed first in Division II in the 100-yard backstroke and second in the 100-yard freestyle at the Central Section Swimming Championships. She was third overall in both events.
Taber’s finals time in the 100 free made her an automatic qualifier for the state meet. She is the first Falcon swimmer to ever earn a spot in the CIF State Championships.
“I was blown away,” Taber said. “I saw 51.58 on the board and I just didn’t know what to think. It was crazy.”
One week prior to the section meet Taber began her spectacular post-season run by taking home three gold medals and one silver medal from the league championship meet.
“I love swimming and it really makes me happy when I’m in the water,” Taber said. “…Even though I had the injury I was still doing other things to keep up my stamina while having a cast or a boot or any of that whole process. It kind of just made me realize that I can do it when I get back in the water. So, when I got back, I was really excited to see what would happen.”
Independence coach Alison Abrams wasn’t surprised to see Taber return to dominating form after recovering from the ankle injury.
“Her skill level is just a cut above everybody else,” Abrams said. “…She’s an excellent swimmer. Very dedicated. Very motivated.”
Taber is also very humble about her swimming success according to Abrams.
“She doesn’t want people to notice her, really,” Abrams said. “But she lets her skill show in the pool. She’s a great person. She’s very positive. She likes to cheer on her teammates. She’s a great asset to our team. I just think the world of her.”
Taber, who finished her freshman year at Independence with a 4.0 grade point average, began swimming at eight years old. She joined Roadrunner Aquatics swimming club three years later.
A quick learner and hard worker, the highly competitive Taber was well prepared to swim at the high school level.
“I definitely felt comfortable right away,” Taber said. “My first practice I was a little shy. But once the girls started talking to me, it felt more like a family the instant I jumped in the water. It was very amazing and I couldn’t believe it.”
The extremely versatile Taber qualified for “Valley” in seven different individual events plus three relays. She also broke eight school (six individual and two relays) records.
However, her primary goal going into the season was earning a berth in the state meet.
“My Independence team is what really pushed me to make it to state,” Taber said. “They were just encouraging me and cheering me on even though maybe they weren’t there. I even had some teammates go up to state with me to support me.”