Berthoud’s Liam Gately makes history at state swim meet

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

Liam Gately

It all started 14 years ago at the Berthoud Town Park swimming pool in the interest of water safety. Nearly a decade and a half later there are four state titles, All-American honors, and a scholarship to prestigious Northwestern University.
Fascinating how things that begin so innocently can lead to such grand achievements.
Such is the case for Liam Gately. The soon-to-be Berthoud High School graduate took home his third and fourth state championships at the 4A state swimming meet at the Air Force Academy Natatorium last weekend. Gately, twice a gold medalist in the 500-yard freestyle as a sophomore and junior, took first in the 100- and 200-yard free races at the 2017 state meet.
“The past three years I would swim the 500-yard free … this year we decided to change it up a little bit,” Gately said as he explained he and his coaches opted to race him in the sprints this year rather than the distance race in which he had achieved more than a modest amount of success the prior three seasons. “I think this came up for us two or three months ago … I had swam in a Texas meet for our club, which was down at sea level, and I had been able to swim the 100 and 200 freestyle and I was able to get best times, they were some of my fastest times, and it was the first time that I came close to breaking that 45-second mark in the 100 free and then the 1:37 in the 200.”
Gately’s times in the two sprints at state, 44.64 in the 100 and 1:36.94 in the 200, were not only the fastest times in any classification in Colorado but also broke the standing 4A state records. Gately set these marks in a pool that rests at over 7,200 feet above sea level.
“One of the reasons for (the decision to compete in the sprints) is that we were swimming at Air Force which is a much higher elevation. The thought process behind that was that these are two races for me that are sprints, being sprints I feel that they are races that I would have to be able to perform just as well at a much higher elevation than I would at sea-level,” Gately explained.
While he will collect a diploma as an honor-roll graduate from Berthoud High on Saturday, given the school does not have a swim team, Gately swims for Loveland’s Thompson Valley High School. It is not something Gately regards as a challenge but said he instead wears as something of a badge of honor, representing his hometown and the school he attends proudly.
“Being at Berthoud High School I wish I could represent them a little more, but in all these years swimming for Thompson Valley I’ve still been representing Berthoud High School,” Gately said. “Yeah, it is a little different because outside of swimming I’m still a Berthoud High School student, but I get recognized as a Thompson Valley swimmer.”
Gately swims over 7,000 yards a day, six days a week, 11 months of the year. The grueling practice regimen he maintains has not only born fruit as a high school and club swimmer but also, he believes, will aid him at Northwestern in his quest to qualify for the United State Olympic team and in life as a whole.
Said Gately, “Especially over the last four years where I’ve made some of my greatest strides, whenever I got to a meet or even at practice, I find that there’s always something I can get better at, and I think a lot of those skills I learn in the pool apply to life skills as well. I think for me, the timeliness, the organization that comes from goal-setting and being competitive overall, I think helps bring that out into the real world.”
Remaining humble but also being cognizant of his remarkable achievements, ones that put him shoulder-to-shoulder with any athlete who’s passed through Berthoud High, Gately said, “For me, that means everything that I’ve done over the these past years in practice and in meets has, I think, it’s shown me that it’s finally really paid off.”

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