For their last meet of 2019, the Dawson County High School swim team traveled to Rome, Georgia on Dec. 12 to take part in the Darlington Invitational. Competing against schools from across north Georgia, including championship caliber programs from the Darlington School and Model High School, the Tigers turned in a gutsy team performance to earn their second top-5 finish in a row.
Dawson County made their presence known almost immediately as the team took home the top two medals in the boys’ 50-yard freestyle race. Senior Matthew Wood and sophomore Ian Bliss chased each other to the end of the pool and back again as the duo battled for the top two spots. In the end, Wood had more in reserve for the final kick and he touched the wall with a time of :24.41 to capture the gold while Bliss settled for the silver.
In his second individual event, Wood continued his dominance of the 100-yard butterfly, shaving almost a second off his qualifying time, with a time of 56.53 seconds. The win marked his third straight gold medal in the event.
Bliss picked up his second silver of the competition in the 100-yard freestyle after a neck-in-neck battle with the Darlington School’s Spencer Shadday. Bliss broke the one-minute mark for the first time this season, setting a personal record with his time of :59.87.
Sophomore Ainsley Allen provided the high point for the Lady Tigers with a photo-finish victory in the 50-yard freestyle over a pair of Darlington School opponents. Allen turned in her best performance in the event this season with a time of 1:11.81 to capture her team’s only gold medal of the day by a mere one-tenth of a second.
In what is arguably the most grueling event in competition swimming, the 500-yard freestyle, senior Kara Starr has slowly established herself as a contender during the 2019-20 season. That trend continued as she picked up the bronze medal with her time of 8:44.84 for the 20-lap race.
In addition to the medal performances, Dawson County placed at least one swimmer in the top-5 of every event in which they participated scoring points each time the team was in the pool. The Tigers finished the day with a team total of 61 points to finish the Invitational in fourth place.
With a two-break to celebrate Christmas and the new year, the Tigers will not be in action again until Jan. 14 when the team heads to Adairsville for a rematch with the Adairsville Tigers and the Cass High School Colonels.