Zach Harting Makes U.S. Olympic Team- “I Knew The Outcome Before I Dove Into The Pool”
Omaha, Neb.- Former Bob Jones standout swimmer Zach Harting is now living out his dream he’s had since age seven and a more recent vision of winning a race to qualify him to swim in the Olympics. Harting won the 200-meter butterfly event at the U.S. Olympic Trials and will be included in the group of athletes to represent the United States in the upcoming Summer Olympics set for Tokyo, Japan.
“Three weeks ago I had a dream I was going to make it and I had this vision I would make the team,” said Harting in an interview with the Madison Record just hours after a gold medal was draped around his neck for his first place finish. “I knew the outcome before I dove into the pool.”
The 200 butterfly has been dominated by Olympic star Michael Phelps for the last 20-plus years and the 23-year old Harting is part of the new faces for the U.S. Olympic Team. He was the top seed in the finals and used a late surge to win the race with a time of 1:55.06, less than three-tenths of a second ahead of runner-up Gunnar Bentz at the event held in Omaha, Neb.
“I knew I was in the race when I made my last turn and began to reach for the finish,” said Harting. “I felt like what they used to say on Star Trek when the engineer would say I’m giving you all I got Captain. When I touched the wall at the finish, I knew I was the winner.”
He was quoted after the race, “I’m going to be an Olympian and get an Olympic ring tattoo. Coming’ in here and not making the team was not an option.”
In 2016, Harting qualified for the finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but finished a disappointing seventh. After that race he said, “I came up a little short and I did my best, but it stung a little bit to know I came so close to reaching my goal of making the Olympic Team. My plan is to go back and become an Olympian swimmer.”
Harting’s dream has always been to wear the colors of the U.S. in the Olympics. He began swimming at age seven at Dublin Memorial Park with the Madison Dolphins and moved to the Huntsville Swim Association as his talents progressed. For Bob Jones, he won two state championships as a junior, but chose not to swim for the Patriots as a senior, but instead decided to swim for the HSA exclusively.
Known as a free-spirit, Harting once wore a Batman costume complete with a cape upon his introduction at a race in Orlando, Fla. He loves to play the guitar and board games for relaxation. One additional little-known fact about the former Patriot- he was a diver for the swim team as a freshman.
Upon graduating from Bob Jones as the state’s No. 1 swim prospect he signed to swim for Louisville after considering other colleges to attend. He earned All-Conference honors and was also named to the All-ACC Academic Team. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and also earned his Masters at Louisville where he currently calls home.
He becomes the first Olympian from this the immediate area since 2008 when Huntsville’s Margaret Hoelzer made the U.S. Olympic Swim Team.
The son of Scott and Lori Harting, the Olympian will turn 24 on Aug. 27. He swims for FINIS Swim Gear and is about to depart on a whirlwind tour. The Olympic team is headed to Hawaii for training for three weeks before making the trek over the Pacific Ocean arriving in Japan for the Summer Olympics with the swim competition taking place July 24-Aug. 1. After a year-long postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic the games will remain officially labeled at the 2020 Summer Olympics with Opening Ceremonies scheduled for July 23 at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. NBC will handle the national TV coverage.
Harting said he didn’t eat well for a couple days prior to his event swim effort and sat with his parents after the race in sort of an “emotional decompression” mode where he felt the weight of his trek lifted off his shoulder. For him and his dream the Olympic Trials began in January 2020 and Harting said he’s been on an emotional super high ever since.
“I was a dreamer when I was seven years old and I watched all my friends cancel their dreams. I’m here for the dreamers,” added Harting after his victory. “Young or old. Make it a goal and make it happen.”
“I’m honored to get to go to Japan to represent my country and the Madison community,” said Harting. “Most athletes like myself want to go to the Olympics, but only a few make it.”