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Girls Swimmer of the Year: Buford's Brittany Litke

POSTED: March 22, 2014 10:00 p.m.

The swimming pool has always been a place where Brittany Litke found peace and solace. Before setting school records at Buford High, Litke found the water as a place to get away from the uncertainty that came with her younger sister Olivia’s heath conditions as a child.

When Brittany was in middle school, she wasn’t aware she would leave the program as a senior placing in three separate state races. At the time, the pool was a place not to get overwhelmed with thinking about the rheumatoid arthritis and eventual renal cell cancer that would develop in Olivia, who now as a 14-year-old eighth grader is in remission.

“Swimming was my escape,” said Brittany, who took eighth in the 100 backstroke and ninth in the 50 freestyle in the Class A-AAAAA portion of the state meet on Feb. 9 in Atlanta.

Over time, that escape for Litke turned into a passion. Along with helping the Lady Wolves’ 200-yard freestyle relay team to a 14th place spot at state, she will graduate with school records in the 50 and 500 freestyle, and 100 backstroke.

For her efforts, Litke is The Times Girls Swimmer of the Year.

The state swim meet this year was filled with highs for Litke, even though a devastating low followed after it was all over.

She hit the deck for the Lady Wolves and raced to eighth place in the championship race of the 100 backstroke with a time of 59.13 seconds, and won the B final in the 50 freestyle in 24.81.

The 200 freestyle relay team made up of Litke, Bailey Roberts, Brittany Franklin and Danielle Brooks finished 14th in their race with a time of 1:45.41. She said having such a solid showing at state was a nice moment to enjoy all the growth and progress of the Buford swim program, a group she competed with since moving to the school as a sophomore from Winder-Barrow.

“Honestly, it was a fantastic experience,” said Litke, who will swim at the University of the Cumberlands in the fall. “It was an exhilarating experience, everyone was cheering on the swimmers like it was the Olympics.”

When she returned home, her parents delivered the news that her grandfather, Bud Bonner, has died from an extended illness during the night before she swam in the finals Saturday. Her parents kept the news from her so she could enjoy her experience in the state meet, as was her grandfather’s wish, according to Litke.

“It was a very emotional time for me,” said Litke, who plans on her pursuing a degree in biology in college before attending medical school.

Swimming has always been a joy in Litke’s life since she first started showing aptitude for the sport in junior high. She first broke the one-minute barrier in the 100 freestyle at 13, and went under a minute in the 100 backstroke as a freshman at Winder-Barrow.

Along the way, she’s had some great coaching to push her in the right direction. Every time she gets to a race she thinks about the advice of her former coach, Samantha Auerbach from Swim Atlanta, to dig a little deeper to maximize her result in every race.

“She used to always tell me, ‘if your head is not in the trash can at the end, you’re not swimming hard enough.’”

Litke also garnered the attention of legendary University of Georgia coach Jack Bauerle, who met the young swimmer during her participation in summer camps when she was 14. The Bulldogs coach gave her advice about doing her best, having a good attitude and self confidence. She still competes with Swim Atlanta and coach Chris Davis out of Sugarloaf.

“I think he saw something in me,” Litke said.

By the time she was in eighth grade, she was swimming up with the varsity program at Winder-Barrow.

“I realized then that I was kind of fast,” she added.

With her diverse background in the pool, Litke has earned her spot to swim the 100 and 200 backstroke in college, with a shot at also swimming on a relay squad as well.

She said during her three years competing at Buford, it has grown into a team that has built a reputation on the state level. It all traces back to great team chemistry.

“We had an amazing team at Buford that all supported each other,” Litke said. “I couldn’t have asked for more.”


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