Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week:

Liao’s work continues to pay off

Corona del Mar senior excels in water polo and swim, and will compete in both at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

April 01, 2010|By Steve Virgen

One early morning this past December, Michael Liao received a phone-text message that confirmed, once again, his hard work had paid off. So naturally it was a text that made the Corona del Mar High senior excited.

Adam Foley, the men’s water polo coach from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, messaged Liao that he was accepted into the school and he would be able to compete at the NCAA Division III university.

“I was really excited,” said Liao, also a standout swimmer who will compete in the two sports at MIT. “I got the text during zero period and for the rest of the day I couldn’t really think about anything else. I did terrible on my tests, but I guess it didn’t matter.”


What mattered most was that it was another example of Liao’s labor. For the past four years, Liao has been putting in the work and the time to excel in water polo and swimming at Corona del Mar. In his senior year, he wanted to make sure he pushed it to a higher level.

So far it’s shown.

In the fall, he was named Co-MVP of the Pacific Coast League after helping the Sea Kings’ water polo team to the league championship. He had 44 goals, 36 steals and 20 assists, earning second-team All-CIF Southern Section Division I honors.

This swim season, he’s also accomplished big-time feats, as CdM seeks the CIF Division I title.

“That kid works harder than anyone I know,” said Barry O’Dea, who coaches boys’ water polo and the swim team. “To me, he epitomizes what I look for in all my athletes. He just does it all, athletics, academics and he has a great work ethic. I don’t have anyone who works harder in swimming. Whether it be freestyle or breast, he’s just all around ... He has a special skill and a talent when it comes to the water.”

That could be seen March 20 at the CIF Southern Section relays. The Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week swam the breaststroke leg in CdM’s record-breaking 200-yard medley relay win. Ari Marks (backstroke), John Kim (butterfly) and Matt Berry (freestyle) were also part of the 1 minute, 36.49 swim that broke the meet record.

Liao, a team captain, has a strong passion for the team concept in the individual sport. That’s why he showed great excitement after the Sea Kings pulled off a big win at Capistrano Valley March 25.

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