The Dawson County High School swim team kicked off the 2019-20 season with a pair of meets in the first week of November. The first meet of the season took place on Nov. 7 in Calhoun, followed by the Double Dual, sponsored by Forsyth County High School, at the Cumming Aquatic Center.
After losing eight seniors to graduation, representing almost half the team, Head Coach Linda Sperin has been focused on building the skills and confidence of her new swimmers for the upcoming season.
“Unlike last year, when there were mostly seniors, we have a lot of sophomores this year,” Sperin said. “Most of them are in their first year of swimming, so it will be a great group of kids to build the team around.”
Competitive swimming offers unique challenges as each athlete is not only racing against the other teams in the pool, they are also racing against themselves. The primary goal of every meet is to improve one’s personal time and from there, the rest will fall in place.
From that perspective the Double Dual was a tremendous success for the Tigers. Senior Matthew Wood turned in the best performance of the day with a second-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle. Incredibly, 15 of the team’s 17 active swimmers set personal records in their events.
“I keep stressing that we are focusing on cutting times,” Sperin said. “We had five swimmers that cut off five seconds from their time and several swims where a couple seconds were shaved off.”
Although the program has been in existence for six years, a lack of facilities in Dawson County keeps the team out of sight and out of mind for most residents. The Tigers practice at the Cumming Aquatic Center and swim the bulk of their competitions away from home; of this season’s 11 competitions, 10 are on the road.
This lack of visibility makes recruiting for and supporting the team more challenging then is the case for the school’s marquis programs, so the influx of new faces and the strong start to the season has been a wonderful surprise for coach Sperin.
“A lot of this year’s swimmers are here because they were invited by a friend on the team,” Sperin said. “When they got here, they saw that it wasn’t so bad and stuck around. It’s been great to be a part of that and I am looking forward to an awesome season.”
The season continues on Nov. 14 when the team heads to Rome, Georgia for the first of two competitions hosted by the RHS Wolves.