Athlete of the month: Kathleen Gani

As she heads to another CIF competition, DB swim captain looks back at career.


Calvin Ru

Senior Kathleen Gani was the first Brahma to compete at CIF State Finals.

Ryan Chae, Sports Editor

At the age of twelve, Kathleen Gani  faced  a life-changing decision: quit and not worry about sports or continue swimming for Brea Aquatics. Nearly six years later, Gani is now a captain for the Diamond Bar High School swim team and on her way to the University of the Pacific on a full-ride scholarship.

It seemed that from the day she was born, Gani was destined to swim, as her mother swam as a high school athlete and while she was pregnant with Gani. Due to her mother’s insistence, Gani began swimming at seven, but it was not the most exciting times for Gani as she struggled early on.

“I really hated it and I really wanted to quit it, but my mom asked me, ‘What else would you do?’ Because when I don’t have practice, I really don’t know what to do.,” Gani said.

Over time, Gani began to enjoy swimming, pushing her to competitively swim for Brea Aquatics two years later. To this day, Gani still swims for the club team. Just a year later, Gani qualified for her first Junior Olympics, one of her fondest memories.

However, Gani would face one of her biggest obstacles in her career at age 12. Improving every year since joining, Gani hit a wall when she struggled to improve her event times. Gani even considered quitting due to the lack of progress she was making.

“I felt good at practices, but at meets I wouldn’t perform. I felt like I wanted to just stop because it was a whole year of not performing well while all my friends were getting faster,” Gani said.

But, with the support of her parents, Gani pushed through that year, and since then, she continues to shave more and more time off.

In her freshman year, Gani joined the DBHS swim team with the hopes off facing tougher competition and representing her school. Also, Gani was now apart of the youngest class on campus.

“I was scared and excited. I was an incoming freshman, and it was kind of intimidating. But I was also excited because it was different from club. I wanted break school records,” Gani said.

Feelings of anxiety and fear were an afterthought as Gani made All League and competed at that year’s CIF-SS for the 200 IM and the 100 Fly. Freshman year was also important for Gani as it was the year that she learned to balance school and swim.

A year later, Gani would have her most memorable year as she became the first Brahma to perform at CIF State for the 100 Fly, finishing in the top 15.

While sophomore year was filled with memories, junior year was her favorite and most crucial season due to college recruiters. In her third year on the team, Gani felt “in her prime,” as she competed in four events at CIF State: 100 Fly, 200 IM, 200 Free Relay, and 400 Free Relay. It was also at State that Gani met UOP’s swim coach and was later invited to see the college’s team practice, leading to her decision to sign with them.

As she prepares for her final CIF State on May 19, Gani hopes that she leaves a  legacy as a swimmer who never gave up. She also hopes that every Brahma that comes after her has that same mentality.

“I want swimmers to not give up on yourselves. I know it sounds super cliche, but really don’t give up even if you feel like a complete failure. Don’t give up and remember that school is important too.”