The Dawsonville Racers closed out the 2019 summer swimming season with back-to-back tournament weekends as the team took part in the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) District 7 championship June 29 in Gainesville and then the North Georgia Swim League (NGSL) championship on July 5 – 6 in Clarkesville.
The District 7 tournament is an all-day affair extending across 90 events with well over 100 swimmers ranging in age from 7-18. Dawson County faced off against teams from Jefferson, Oconee and Habersham counties as each team was rewarded points based on each individual swimmer’s performance.
“Obviously, you are swimming as an individual,” Assistant Coach M.C. Thompson said. “But you score as a team and we always have some real strong swimmers.”
One of the swimmers to emerge from the tournament was eight-year old Cash Kirby who raced in three events on the day, the 25-foot freestyle, 25-ft butterfly and the 100-yard individual medley. With his lowest finish being a fourth-place berth in the freestyle, Kirby not only brought home team points in every event he qualified for state in both the medley and the butterfly with a first and second place finish respectively.
“Its nerve wracking and exciting,” Kirby said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do there.”
Although the NGSL championship was split over two-days to accommodate the size of the league both days continued deep into the afternoon as a dozen teams descended on the Ruby Fulbright Natatorium.
“Some of these teams have over 150 kids on their rosters,” Head Coach Stephanie Morgan said. “It makes it impossible to do all in one day.”
Coach Morgan also talked about the effects of team size on the scoring system and the need to emphasize a different mindset as the leader of a smaller team.
“With all the kids on their rosters, even if all of them finish last, those team will still have a scoring advantage,” Morgan said. “But an athlete is an athlete. Some of our kids play other sports like soccer, football, track and then summer swim league, but none swim year-round, and they still come here and compete at a high level.”
The younger swimmers stood out in particular on Saturday morning as Liam Taylor captured a blue-ribbon with a first-place heat finish in the 8U 25-ft freestyle and Micah Jones wracked up the tournament’s second-highest individual point total from the 6U bracket.
Kirby becomes the only Racer in action on July 12 at the GRPA State Finals in Tifton.