Evans High School juniors Martin Kata and Josh Andrews are accustomed to winning. The teammates have been training together since they were 10 years old and rarely lose a race.
They're two of the best swimmers on the Evans team and also rank at the top in the Aiken-Augusta Swim League.
"The practices are hard, but I like the meets and the chance to race," Kata said.
Still, with all the awards and recognition, nothing could prepare the lifelong friends for what they would face during their junior year.
In October, Josh lost his father, Roy Andrews, to a rare heart condition. The battle with the illness lasted less than a month and shocked the Andrews family. It especially affected Josh.
"I'm good with it some days, and some days it's tough," he said. "From the time I was 5 years old, my dad never missed a swim meet."
The loss came just before the start of the 2005-06 high school swim season. Andrews and Kata, who both swim year-round, had already been practicing 2 hours a day and six days a week. When the news came that Andrews' father had died, Kata was there.
"I remember he came over and talked to me," Andrews said. "Martin's been real good about it. He's helped me a lot."
Even with the loss of his No. 1 fan, Andrews said he never once thought about giving up.
"It drives me," he said. "Being the man of the house now is a lot of responsibility, but my dad would have wanted me to swim."
The result has been a season unlike any other for both Andrews and Martin. The swimmers have won every event they've competed in, including four individual wins last week at the CSRA Championships.
Their success was further rewarded Jan. 23 when Kata and Andrews, along with Evans middle schooler Ben Miller, earned a trip to the state Capitol to meet Gov. Sonny Perdue.
The recognition came after the trio won the Southeastern Title as part of the Georgia Zone Team this past summer in Texas.
The team, made up of Georgia's top 10 swimmers in each age group, beat the rest of the Southeastern states to win the title.
Andrews and Kata will have another chance for state recognition when they compete at the swimming state championships Feb. 10-11. Both will likely compete in two individual and two relay events each.
Even though the pair are only juniors, they've already had a few colleges looking their way.
Andrews, who has two siblings at the University of South Carolina, also is looking toward the University of South Carolina, while Kata has heard from Georgia Tech, USC and the University of North Carolina.
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