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Gati may be a long shot but it's a shot she's eager to take

by Tony Burns | June 6, 2021 at 6:42 p.m.

Izzy Gati began dreaming of swimming in the Olympic Games when she was a ninth grader at El Dorado High School. Now a sophomore at the University of Kentucky, Gati finds herself one step away from reaching that goal.

Gati will compete in the 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter butterfly in Omaha, Nebraska at the United States Olympic Swim Trials in two weeks. Wave 2 of the trials, which features the fastest times, will be held June 13-19.

The 100 meter butterfly is set for Sunday June 13. The 200 meter butterfly will be held Wednesday June 16.

Both races will be broadcast on NBCSN.

“I am very excited for this moment and to be competing at my first Olympic Trials. I feel like I have come so far and grown as a person and swimmer since the last Olympic Trials in 2016,” said Gati. “I remember trying so hard to get a trials cut in 2016 and not getting one. It is surreal to me that I am now going to be competing in not one but two races at trials five years later.”

Gati also qualified for the 200 individual medley but will stick to the two butterfly events. She ranks higher in the 200 butterfly. She won a silver medal in that event at the SEC Championships in a time of 1:52.54. She was fourth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.60.

Gati finished eighth in the 200 butterfly at the NCAA National Championships, earning All-American honors. She was ninth in the 100 butterfly.

At the trials, the top two finishers in each race will make the Olympic Team. So, although Gati is a step away from the Olympics in Tokyo, it’s a gigantic step.

“I am definitely a long shot for the Olympics. I will have to have the best race of my life to make the team,” Gati said. “My goals for the meet are just to take in the moment, have fun, and get my best times.”

She hopes the location, which is the same arena Kentucky claimed its first NCAA volleyball national championship, will bring her some luck.

Gati, who won a state championship as a ninth grader at El Dorado before attending The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia, earned second team All-SEC honors along with All-American status in the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly, 200 IM and 400 medley relay.

“I feel like I am in the best shape of my life right now. I have been having really consistent and good practices recently,” Gati said. “My confidence is high right now just with how my practices have been going and from the support of my teammates and coaches.”

The daughter of Dr. Kenneth and Daion Gati will have to advance through the qualifying heats to the finals against the best swimmers in the United States. Mom and Dad will be there for the biggest splash in their daughter’s swimming journey.

“Yes, we are going to Omaha along with a lifelong friend of mine and his wife. They also happen to be her Godparents,” said Dr. Gati. “We get excited to go watch her every time she races. At big meets her mom and I do get nervous for her just before she races. We know how much time and effort she has put into swimming. The tough thing with swimming is it’s one race and you’re done. There is no next play or another at bat. When it’s all said and done, we want her to be happy with her swim as she knows she is competing against some of the best in the world. Winning is not always realistic but being competitive is.”

Gati certainly won’t be a stranger to elite competition. The stakes, however, are higher than ever.

“This is definitely the biggest competition of my swimming career,” she said. “I am going into the meet and treating it like any other meet. I just want to embrace the moment and do my best. I have put in a lot of hard work and now I just have to trust myself and my training.”

Qualifying heats for the 100 butterfly will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 13. Qualifying for the 200 butterfly will be at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16.

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