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February 20, 2014

UIL SWIMMING AND DIVING — Huntsville’s Bitara glad to be at state meet

HUNTSVILLE — Huntsville senior swimmer Andrew Bitara’s goal this season was to qualify for the state swim meet in an individual event.

After making it to state last year in the 400-yard freestyle relay with his older brother Matthew Bitara and a pair of other graduating seniors, Bitara looked to distinguish himself as a swimmer in 2013-‘14.

Bitara has done that and will compete in the UIL Swimming and Diving State Meet this weekend in the 500 freestyle.

“It feels reals like I’ve really achieved my goal,” Bitara said. “I knew last year that it would be the last year with my brother and the other seniors would be here. So I knew I had to prepare for the next year in my goal to make it to state individually.

“It feels great that I’ve come this far to achieve my goal and now all just I’m trying to do is make it in the top eight and do my best to represent Huntsville.”

Bitara spent the past couple of weeks working on his arm strength and breathing patterns. One of the things he’s most proud of is the improvement on his time at the Region 5 swim meet.

Last year, Bitara’s personal best in the 500 freestyle was 4:52 at the regional meet. But at this year’s regional competition, he dropped about six seconds from his time to 4:46.49

“I’ve obviously done incredibly better than what I did last year,” Bitara said. “For me, the 4:46 is really an impressive time.”

Even his brother was impressed with the younger Bitara’s improvement. Andrew Bitara said Matthew has been busy with college, but once he found out about the regional time posted, he uttered an expletive out of amazement.

“He was proud of the time and surprised that I went that fast,” Andrew Bitara said. “Throughout the week, he’s been telling me to just focus on my breathing and stroke technique and I’ll do fine.”

Friends and strangers alike have sent congratulations Bitara’s way. He said classmates and the school in general has been supportive of him.

“Overall the school has recognized that I’ve made it to state and congratulated me for that,” he said. “A lot of my friends have been congratulating me and wishing me the best and a few others I never knew have come up to me and said congratulations.”

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