Dec. 5 Outstanding Student Athlete: Penn's Bethany Galat


The best female swimmer in the state of Indiana might never have found her way to a pool without a little scheduling issue when she was a young child.

"I actually missed soccer tryouts," Bethany Galat remembers. "Swimming was the next option."

Things have worked out pretty well for Galat in the water. This is what she has accomplished in the last year alone: two more individual state championships and a runner-up finish for the Penn team.

Then over the summer, she claimed the USA Junior National title in her marquee event, the 100 breaststroke.

"All the best 18-and-under swimmers in the country, and she beat every single one of them in the 100 breaststroke," said Penn head coach Jess Preston. "She's got that 'Wow' factor about her. She's doing something amazing every day in practice and when she gets in a race, again, she's amazing."

Finally this fall, Galat committed to swim collegiately at national powerhouse Texas A&M down in College Station.

"They're all so fast," Galat says. "That's just exactly what I need, is to have someone always in front of me. That will just make me better. It's just a great atmosphere, the Texas A&M team."

In a sport where so much rests on an individual's shoulders, Galat is all about team.

"Both my coaches know, I need someone to swim with," says Galat, who also competes with the South Bend Swim Club. "Or else I just can't do it."

"She's just a very genuine person, who really cares about every one of her teammates," Preston says.

Who knows what kind of soccer player she would have been. But Galat has no regrets over her childhood choice.

"I just love the sport," Galat says. "I just love racing and practicing."

"That definitely worked out for us," says Preston. "And I think her, too."

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