Only the best swimmers in the country are still swimming competitively when the calendar turns to August.
In Columbia County, five athletes are doing just that.
Evans High School rising senior Martin Kata has qualified for the Senior Nationals, the biggest and most prestigious swimming competition in the United States in a non-Olympic year.
Josh Andrews and C.J. Hendry, also Evans High School swimmers, will join Lakeside's Eric Chiu and Riverside Middle's Katherine Huff on the Georgia Zone Swim Team this week in Atlanta.
The four swimmers earned a spot on the team after placing in the top 10 of their age group at the Georgia Swimming Senior Long Course State Championships in mid-July.
"I've been with ASL (Aiken-Augusta Swim League) as a swimmer and a coach now for 20-some years," ASL coach Kristin Schlegel said. "We've never had this many (qualify for zones) in one year."
The ASL, which includes swimmers from the entire Augusta area, had a total of five swimmers make the Georgia Zone Swim Team this year. Each will represent Georgia at the Southern Zones at Georgia Tech this week.
"At this level it's a pretty high honor," said Andrews, who made the Georgia Zones team for the second straight year. "I'm hoping we can repeat for another title."
While his Evans High School teammates are representing their state, Kata will compete for a chance to represent his country. Swimming at The 2006 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships in Irvine, Calif., Kata will join more than 20 Olympic gold medalists in competition through Saturday.
A win for Kata would mean a National Championship and a spot on Team USA to compete at the international level. Schlegel said Kata was also only a half-second away from a time good enough for the Olympic trials.
"When you get to the national level you're literally competing against Olympians," Schlegel said. "This is the biggest meet next to Olympic trials in our country."
Kata will compete in the 200-meter Individual Medley.
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