The road to the Olympic Trials and Division I College Swimming has been paved with hard work for 17-year-old islander Maddy Burt.
All those hours of hard work paid off in Knoxville, TN, recently when she qualified for the Olympic Trials. She also just accepted a scholarship to swim at the Division I level for the University of Arizona.
Burt has trained with the Marco Y’s Kamal Farhat since she was 6 years old.
“I started swimming for him when I was six,” Burt said. “He’s helped me through everything. I’ve just been with him forever since then. He’s definitely a hard coach, but he’s definitely willing to help you if you do the same. He’s a very funny person. He’s got a great personality. And he’s smart.”
Farhat, the Y’s longtime swim coach, is visibly proud of his longtime student.
“She started with me when she was six years old,” Farhat began. “Every stroke I’d teach her, she’d pick it up real fast. I remember when I used to teach her the freestyle, she used to use a dolphin kick,” he said with a laugh. “Trying to get her out of that took a while. But she did and she became a good flyer.”
Farhat said Burt’s ability to pick things up quickly separated her from her peers.
“She’s a fast learner, that’s the good news about her,” he stated. “She was picking up everything I taught her really fast. Especially the motion. How you move your hand, she picks all that stuff up quick. So that’s what makes her a successful swimmer. She picks up and becomes faster and faster. She becomes a faster swimmer each year.”
Burt qualified for the Olympic Trials with a 2:14.45 time in the 200 Butterfly in Knoxville. The trials are scheduled for June 21-28 in Iowa.
Both Burt and her coach knew she had a good chance to qualify in Knoxville. The young swimmer believes in herself and her coach believes in her.
“It was at a pretty big meet at Knoxville and I made an Olympic Trials qualifying time,” Burt said modestly. “I was happy. I was confident in myself. I was hoping that I could do it, and I did.”
Farhat knew she had the talent to qualify. More importantly, however, he knew she worked hard to earn her chance.
“It actually comes from working hard,” Farhat stated. “Because there’s a lot of talented people. If you don’t use your talent with hard work, you won’t succeed. Success comes with both. But hard work always gets you to the top. That’s how it works. A lot of talented people waste their talent, because they don’t want to work hard. Only hard work combined with talent gets you to the top. Hard work always gets you to the top.”
Farhat said Burt was always easy to coach. “She always listened. She’s worked will me all through the years. Her specialty is the fly, but she can do any stroke really well. She just loves the fly. She’s always had the best fly, all the way through.
“I’m happy for her because she works hard. She’s in the pool almost every day.”
However, Farhat said the 200 Butterfly may not be the only event Burt qualifies in. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if she qualifies in the 100 Butterfly, too. That competition will be in March in Plantation, Florida.
Burt’s scholarship to the University of Arizona is a big deal. The Arizona women won the NCAA national championship in 2008 and boast 54 Olympians in their illustrious history.
”A couple colleges had reached out to me,” Burt said, “Arizona was one of them. When I took a visit, I loved it. And I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
The future looks bright for Maddy Burts. She starts school at The University of Arizona in the Fall. And perhaps her hard work and talent will pay off with a trip to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. And if she makes it, you can be sure her coach from Marco Island will be there, too.