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This Cat excels in the water

Chip Ellis
Cat Wright, 12, of Scott Depot, has qualified to swim in the national swimming competition in Georgia. With more hard work, she hopes to be ready to make the U.S. Olympic team when she's 16.
Chip Ellis Cat Wright holds record times in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly in Colorado and West Virginia.
Chip Ellis Wright has broken records in her home state of Colorado and now in West Virginia with her specialty stroke, the butterfly.

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. -- The father of one of the girls on Cat Wright's swimming relay team was the type who keeps track of record-setting times.

He had calculated how fast each of the girls needed to swim to beat the record at their meet held at the University of Kansas two years ago.

"We just swam it, and after, her dad gave a thumbs-up," said Wright, who was 10 years old then.

The girls had broken a record belonging to another relay team -- one that included Missy Franklin, now a member of the U.S. Olympic team for this summer's London Olympics.

Last month, Wright -- now 12 -- broke another record, securing a spot in the national swimming competition in Georgia. However, she's not planning to attend.

Instead, she will head to Dallas with her friends to compete in a Southern Zone meet.

"I get to go there and represent West Virginia," she said.

At the national competition, everyone will be much older than Wright, and, "There's always next year," she said. Plus, next year, she might qualify to compete in more than one event. She qualified to swim the 100-meter butterfly at the competition -- her favorite stroke.

Despite Wright's swimming skills, her mother says she stays grounded.

"She's much more calm about everything than I am," Sally Wright said. "She doesn't even know what her times are . . .  . I'm glad she is just having fun and being a kid."

Wright's family moved from Colorado to Scott Depot last year. Swimming for the Young Men's Christian Association tri-county "Wild Waves" team, which practices at the YMCA in Scott Depot, less than a mile from the family's home, has made it easy for the rising seventh-grader to make friends.

In Colorado, she holds the record winning times in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly for two age groups.

"When we moved to West Virginia, she broke the same records," Sally Wright said. "It's really exciting that she could be a state champ in both states."

Franklin, of Colorado, who will compete in the Olympic swimming events in London later this month, devoted lots of time to young swimmers in Colorado, according to Sally Wright.

Franklin's autograph hangs on the bag tag Wright keeps her swimming gear in.

"We'll be rooting for her [at the Olympics]," Cat Wright said.

At age 5, Wright started swimming competitively following in the footsteps of her siblings.

"It got boring just watching," she said.

With more hard work, Wright hopes that, when she's 16, she'll be ready to try out for and make the U.S. Olympic team.

"That's just four years away," she said, smiling.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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