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Swimmer Izaak Bastian ready to represent Bahamas, Florida State at Tokyo Olympics

Curt Weiler
Tallahassee Democrat
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A trip to the Olympics or a summer at home with his family in the Bahamas.

That was what was at stake when Florida State swimmer Izaak Bastian began competing in Bahamas National Championships in June.

Behind a career showing in the pool and a pair of new Bahamian records in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, Bastian booked his ticket to the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics in both events, becoming the fifth FSU swimmer/diver to clinch a berth in this year's games.

"I kind of just walked in my apartment and I was like, 'Wow, it's real...'" Bastian, a native of Nassau, Bahamas, said of realizing he had clinched a spot in the Olympics.

"It means a lot. I think just growing up and seeing the people that we sent before, they were big names to hear. To be notarized with them, it means a lot. This is like the peak of our sport."

FSU swimmer Izaak Bastian qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke for his native country of the Bahamas.

Bastian is an anomaly as a rising senior at FSU who turned 20 earlier this year. He's one of only two active FSU athletes competing in this year's Olympics, along with Canadian soccer player Gabby Carle.

He's building off a breakout season at FSU which saw him set new program records in both the 100 breaststroke (51.84) and 200 breast (1:53.81). This past season, he earned a pair of All-American honorable mentions in both the 200 and 400 medley relays.

He credits FSU with a great deal of the success he's found and the growth he's made as a swimmer. Because of this, he's looking forward to representing his school in addition to his country in Tokyo.

"Without Florida State, who knows where I would have been right now. I might not be on the team in the first place," Bastian said.

"I'm just very thankful for the opportunities that I've been given here at Florida State so I think it's only fair for me to represent Florida State as well as my country."

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Bastian is no stranger to big stages. In addition to competing in high-profile NCAA events at FSU, he's competed in a number of prominent international events including the FINA World Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games.

But knowing that the Olympics are quite a different stage than anything else, Bastian has had a few conversations with returning Olympians who have been there before. This included fellow Bahamian Joanna Evans, who will once again be competing in Tokyo after she qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle.

Obviously, the conditions are a little bit different this year than they were in previous years, but I think still just any type of guidance was definitely useful, anything to kind of know what I'm walking into," Bastian said.

Bastian will be one of 50 men competing in the 100 breaststroke and one of 39 competing in the 200 breast. His career-best times are well off the expected times among the medal contenders, meaning he's unlikely to make a splash in Tokyo.

Florida State swimmer Izaak Bastian is one of only two current Seminoles who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

With him only being 20 though, this is just the first of what should be many opportunities to represent his country on the biggest stage. As such, he's entering the Tokyo Games with a very appropriate mindset.

"Honestly, I'm there to have the experience. I'm not really seeded for a medal or anything, but I just want to go there, represent my country and FSU as best as I can and meet some really nice people," Bastian said.

"I've heard it's just a great experience meeting all the people there. It's a lot of the most elite athletes in the world that gather in one place, to meet them, talk about whether it's training mentality or networking in a way. I think just going there, meeting new people and just having a good time, doing all of that and representing as best as I can."

FSU Olympians

Diving: USA - Katrina Young - Women’s 10M platform; John Proctor - Team USA Coach

Swimming: Finland - Ida Hulkko - Women’s 100m breast; Bosnia & Herzegovina - Emir Muratovic - Men’s 50m free & 100m free, Honduras - Julio Horrego - 100m breast & 200m breast; Bahamas - Izaak Bastian - 100m breast & 200m breast

Beach Volleyball: USA - Nick Lucena; Jason Lochhead - team USA coach 

Soccer: USA - Casey (Short) Kruger; Canada - Gabby Carle

Softball: Canada - Kaleigh Rafter; Lonni Alameda - Canada Pitching Coach 

Track & Field: Great Britain - Zak Seddon; Jamaica - Kimmy Williams; Australian - Linden Hall; Hungary - Istvan Szogi; Bahamas - Alonzo Russell; Belgium - Kevin Borlee, Jonathan Borlee, Anne Zagre; Netherlands - Susan Krumins; Ireland - Andrew Coscoran; Cayman Island - Kemar Hyman 

Women’s Basketball: Spain - Leonor Rodrgiuez and Maria Conde

Women’s Golf: Matilda Castren - Finland

Men’s Basketball: Luke Loucks - Assistant Coach, Nigeria

Reach Curt Weiler at cweiler@tallahassee.com or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.

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