Summer Superstars


Grace Li and Tyler Martin

Arthur Balva started swimming at a mere 2 years old. He swam year-round and began to compete at 6 years old with Palo Alto Swimming Association (PASA). Four years later, he moved from Stanford to Rinconada and has swam there ever since.

Since the start of summer, Balva’s team has been packed with practices, meets, and competitions. In the Santa Clara for USA Swimming’s Futures championship, he ranked first in the 200 fly and 200 IM and third in the 400 IM and 100 fly.

However, Balva’s swimming feats did not end there: he made the Olympic trial cut in the 200 Fly at 2:00.47.

These achievements did not come easy. Balva and his team have to be at the pool at 7 am sharp every day of summer vacation. For the next two hours, they swim vigorously and then have two and half more hours of dryland.

Even through this extremely intense preparation, Balva was driven and set on achieving his goal of making the Olympic trial cut. All summer long he focused on improving and training without fail. 

Finally, the day of the meet came. Balva was feeling confident in all of his preparation to this point, but with that confidence, came nerves. 

“The 200 fly was my first event of the entire meet and was also my focal point.” Balva said, “I had put together a series of really good 200 fly swims throughout the season untapered but I really wanted to achieve my goals which made me a tad nervous.”

However, his nerves were not reflected in his amazing performance—reaching the end of his final lap at 2:00.47.

“When I finished that race though and saw that I got my cut,” Balva said. “It was a downhill ride from there and the rest of the meet was so incredibly fun and I felt like I was surfing an emotional wave for the next three days.”

Balva is the first of the current batch of Paly swimmers to make the Olympic trial cut and sets an example of how intense effort and sheer grit can lead to success. Now, he only has to wait for the final meet where the 2024 Olympic team is chosen.

“Even in the toughest of practices I realize that swimming makes me feel alive and I wouldn’t give it up no matter how bad I hate a practice,” Balva said.

Jared Noyman started his gymnastics career in the Stanford practice facilities at the age of 5. It is there where Noyman fell in love with the sport and he has been training ever since. 

Noyman was invited to the esteemed Nationals competition in Arizona, where he faced elite-level competition. Most of the gymnasts are D1 college athletes, all with the same goal of qualifying for the USA championships.

When preparing for a competition, Noyman follows a strict schedule given by his coach that consists of a warm-up, conditioning, strength training, and event training. In addition to this training plan, Noyman’s weeks are divided into easy weeks, medium weeks, and hard weeks, in order to get the most out of his time in the gym.

However, this plan was abandoned as Noyman suffered two broken fingers just two months before Nationals. For the following six weeks, Noyman was unable to practice his routines but found other ways to prepare for the competition.

Once he was fully healed, he quickly got back to practicing his routines. He trained intensely in order to make up for the significant time that he lost.

The week before the event, Noyman traveled to the gym where the event was held, so he can train before the actual competition.

“Having the week to just focus on gymnastics helped me get in the competition mindset,” Noyman said. “I knew I was well prepared which gave me a sense of confidence.”

At the competition, Noyman scored 75.7 in the all-around category after the first day, including an impressive pommel horse routine. At the end of the competition, Noyman placed 5th in the nation on parallel bars for his age group, lifting him into a 20th all-around finish nationally.

Noyman looks to continue his gymnastics career and hopes to compete on a collegiate level in the NCAA.