Lakeside High School seniors Ryan Gober and Ashley Bourne have at least two things in common.
These Panthers prove that some cats do love the water, and each will accept a Spartan existence in order to make a splash in college athletics.
Gober and Bourne recently signed scholarships to compete at the next level. Gober will swim with the University of Tampa Spartans, while Bourne will be a rower for the Michigan State University Spartans.
The Lakeside standouts share another common bond - dedication to their chosen sport.
Bourne was formerly a competitive swimmer, but after discovering a natural ability in the sport of rowing, she got out of the water and into the boat.
"I went strictly to rowing," she says. "I didn't have time for anything else. I practiced every day."
It didn't take long for Bourne's ship to come in. She joined the Augusta Junior Rowing Club as a high school freshman, and by the time she was a Lakeside sophomore, Bourne had an idea she'd be good enough to eventually land a college scholarship.
"I was chosen to go to Nationals my freshman year, and schools started contacting me," she said.
Bourne went on to win the Southeast Regional ERG Sprints title, and her times are ranked top 10 nationally in the junior division.
Now Bourne joins a college squad which is a top 10 team in Division I.
"The Michigan State program is intense - two practices a day, every day; state-of-the-art facility; new boats," she said. "Hopefully, I can make an impact on the team. I'm going to do the best I can."
Gober has been swimming year-round since age 8, and has become one of the best swimmers in Georgia through a diligent work ethic. As a member of the Greater Augusta Swimming team, he practices six days a week, and also lifts weights three days a week.
His sacrifice paid off during his senior season at Lakeside. At the Class AAAA state championships, Gober capped his prep career with second-place finishes in the 100 Butterfly, and as a member of the 400 Freestyle Relay team.
Gober said he chose Tampa because it's the perfect place to improve his skills.
"In college we'll practice about 10 times a week, and there will be an extra weight workout. I'll be stepping it up a little bit, and that will be good," Gober said. "We do a lot of technique training with GAS and Lakeside. The added work in college should push me to a new level."
Tampa competes in Division II, and the Spartans placed fourth in the recent Division II national championships. Still, Gober believes he will give the squad an added dimension.
"They didn't score in any event longer than 400 (meters), and I'm going to specialize in distance events," Gober said, listing the 400 Individual Medley, the 1,000-meter and 1,600-meter events. "If I can improve just a little bit, I'll help out right away. I'm looking to compete at Nationals and hope to make some Olympic Trail times."
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