Area swimmers will get a slight break over the Christmas season before returning to high school competition.
They've earned it.
Fourteen Aiken-Augusta Swim League members, including 10 swimmers from Columbia County, traveled to Georgia Tech two weeks ago to compete in the Georgia Senior Short Course Championship.
Four Columbia County swimmers - Martin Kata, Josh Andrews, C.J. Hendry and Eric Chiu - came home with top 10 finishes.
"This year we actually were a little bit more successful," Aiken-Augusta Swim League program director Kristen Schlegel said. "We're competing against teams from the Atlanta area which some of them have anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 swimmers on their team, and we're less than 200. So for us to be right with them or better than them says a lot about our team and where we're going."
Kata, the most successful and dominant ASL swimmer at the meet, took first place in three different events including the 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle. Kata also recorded top five finishes in six other events, and made six Senior National qualifying times.
Andrews, a senior at Evans, earned four top-10 finishes at the Georgia state championship including a third-place finish in the 400-yard individual medley.
Fellow Evans senior swimmer C.J. Hendry picked up two top-10 finishes including fourth place in the 200-yard backstroke.
Lakeside sophomore Eric Chiu finished sixth and seventh in the 200- and 100-yard backstroke events, respectively.
While the ASL swimmers' increased success will get them a break from competition over Christmas, the training won't stop.
"Right now we're getting ready for sectionals," Schlegel said. "Out of that group that went to state we have 12 of those swimmers that have qualified for sectionals which will be held at UGA in Athens."
While both Kata (Georgia) and Hendry (Florida State) have already committed to swim at the collegiate level, Andrews and Chiu have yet to decide. Chiu, a sophomore, has plenty of time to make a decision while Andrews, a senior, will make one soon.
Schlegel said the upcoming sectionals in March will be an important meet for several swimmers including Andrews.
"A lot of colleges are there and a lot of recruiting goes on there," she said. "It's kind of a big showcase for these high school kids to get seen by some colleges."
Kata, Andrews, Chiu, Brantley Reynolds and Christopher Plummer swam together in relay events at the Georgia state championships to take fourth place in both the 400-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays.
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