While I admittedly focus most of my time covering football, basketball and baseball, I always try to follow Columbia County natives no matter what the sport.
However, I can honestly say in the nearly 12 years I have written this column I have never done a story on a diver. All that changes today because of Greenbrier High School product Tim Barrett.
Barrett is a sophomore on the University of Georgia swimming and diving team, and he has enjoyed a solid season.
Barrett placed fourth in the state championships as a senior for Greenbrier, and he has shown steady improvement while in Athens.
As a freshman during the 2007-08 season, Barrett posted top 20 finishes in the Southeastern Conference championships in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard.
His best marks as a freshman were 280.88 in the 1-meter at the University of Texas and a score of 286.45 at South Carolina in February 2008.
The 2008-09 season was even better for Barrett. He increased his personal best in each event and by an incredible amount. On Jan. 24, he broke the 300 mark with a score of 306.23 at Tennessee. That same day he bettered his 3-meter mark with a score of 334.88.
With Georgia's top diver, senior Webb Worthington, graduating, there is no doubt Bulldogs diving coach Dan Laak will be counting on Barrett heavily during the next two seasons.
Barrett isn't the only Columbia County native on Georgia's swimming and diving team. Former Evans standout Martin Kata swims for the Bulldogs.
Kata was a highly decorated high school swimmer, winning Evans MVP honors all four years. He notched state titles in the 100-meter backstroke and the 200-meter backstroke.
While at Georgia, Kata has continued to perform at a high level.
He garnered top 15 performances in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke at last year's SEC Championships. He also has posted times among the Bulldogs' top three for the year in the 100-meter breaststroke, the 200-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter butterfly. In addition, he has posted top-six times for Georgia in six different events. Like Barrett, Kata's future appears to be pretty bright.
Both Barrett and Kata are honor roll students, by the way, and they helped the swimming and diving team post the highest team GPA of all the sports programs at Georgia.
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