Christian Kata is a bit wet behind the ears, but not in the traditional sense. The Evans High School senior practically lives in the water, and the time in the pool is well spent.
Kata has been a competitive swimmer since he was 8, and through the years he usually has beaten his opponents to the finish line. Last week the University of South Carolina won the race when Kata signed a swimming scholarship with the Gamecocks.
"It was really a tough choice," Kata said of whittling down several scholarship offers and settling on South Carolina.
"South Carolina had the best atmosphere," he said after the signing ceremony Thursday at Evans. "I think over the next four years, we'll go pretty far as a team, even at the national level."
Competing in Columbia will also mark a family reunion - Christian's older brother Justin is a scholarship swimmer at South Carolina.
Evans High School senior Christian Kata signs a
swimming scholarship with University of South Carolina.
Photo by Mike Howell
"That was a little bit of a factor," Christian said. "It will be pretty neat for us to be swimming together again."
Before moving on to the next level, Kata is focused on his senior season with the Evans swim team. As a junior last year, he placed third at the Class AAAA state championships in the 200- and 500-meter freestyle events, and he is aiming for the top this season.
"I'm going to work hard for that," Kata said. "There's always a chance. I'm really excited. I can't wait to see what Evans can do this year, and I can't wait to see what I can do in college."
Kata isn't shy about setting high goals in Division I collegiate athletics: "My freshman and sophomore years, I'd like to be top eight in the SEC, and maybe even top 16 in the nation in the NCAA championships."
That's not to say that Kata expects things to be easy at South Carolina.
"College will be more of a challenge," he says. "The training aspect is a lot harder, but I'm ready for that."
His confidence is born from the countless laps and hours of practice with the Aiken-Augusta Swim League, and from his dominance of high-school events at Evans.
This is one time when being wet behind the ears equates to loads of experience.
"Swimming has always been my passion," Kata said. "When you practice every day, there are times when you get tired of it. You have to push yourself through that, and when you do have a really good meet, it's worth it. It's fun to dedicate yourself to something and find a good result in the end."
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