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SWIMMING: Middle school Tigers roar to victories at Adairsville meet
Jemma Turner swims the butterfly leg of her 200-yard individual medley race. She would win that event and the 100-yard freestyle. - photo by Rio White

Last summer, Dawson County High School varsity swimming coach Linda Sperin was simply looking to establish a middle school team.

In just a few months, the newfound group has produced a strong core of swimmers in every type of race — culminating in the program’s best performance of the season at Adairsville High School on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

In an event that pitted Dawson’s combined high school and middle school program against traditionally strong swim teams in East Paulding and Woodland, the Tigers rose to the challenge, earning four wins.

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“I am incredibly proud of our swimmers,” Sperin said.“They have worked so hard and have made such improvements.”

Highlighting the night’s action for Dawson was a dominant race by seventh-grader Jemma Turner, who won her 200-yard individual medley race by 25 seconds — against five high schoolers.

After establishing herself up front with an aggressive butterfly leg, Turner maintained a steady advantage through her backstroke and breaststroke legs before launching an enormous gap from the field during the freestyle.

That final leg would foreshadow her success later that night, as she won the 100-yard freestyle by just over six seconds.

The Tigers also saw success in the backstroke competitions, with sixth-grader Georgia Galt and seventh grader Cash Kirby winning the girls and boys 100-yard events, respectively. 

Other notable finishes for Dawson included runner-up finishes for freshman Rylan Duran in the 100-yard breaststroke, Ema Bliss in the 50-yard freestyle, and the girls team in the 200-yard medley relay.

Sperin believes that the high school swimmers have shown leadership in bringing the expanded team together throughout the season.

“The team gets along very well,” Sperin said. “The older swimmers have been really great with the younger swimmers.”

With how new the middle school program is, Sperin looks to continue expanding the group as quickly as possible. For any parents who have a child interested in joining the Tigers swim team, please email coach Sperin at