Crazy times call for crazy measures. That phrase has been the theme of this year’s swim season here at TCS. Entering the winter season many believed that there would not be a swim season at all this year. With a global pandemic wreaking havoc on the world and a significant drop in interest from students, not to mention the graduation of a number of top swimmers, all signs posted to a disappointing year… Fast forward to November and nearly a month into the season and all things seemed to change for the swim program. While doing their best to stay in shape despite yet another year of no practice capabilities the team was called on by GISA powerhouse William and Reed to experiment with the idea of a virtual meet.
On November 6th, 2020 the William and Reed swim team got into their pool and swam while we got into our rental pool at Swim Atlanta with the hopes that the times we recorded were better than our opponents. Although a virtual meet gave the kids a chance to compete it still robbed them of the chance to get their competitive juices flowing as they were swimming against the clock and not an opponent. Despite the lack of competitiveness, however, our cougars took every opportunity to shine. Though we did not bring home the W, we did see success in 7 personal best times and even one new school record by 9th grader Claire Troncalli in the 100 meter backstroke!
Once the virtual meet was over and the cougar swim team had a taste of competition they became hungry for more! A week later on November 14th we traveled to The King’s Academy’s Invitational in Cumming to test our mettle against 14 excellent schools from GAPPS and GISA. This is where TCS began turning heads. Thanks to top 5 finishes from Junior Alex Hogg (200 Freestyle), 7th grader Emma Leupold-Cherico (100 Freestyle), and Senior Nick Smith (500 Freestyle)-not to mention countless top 20 finishes and personal bests throughout the team- TCS came in 10th place in Varsity and 7th in JV.
Due to no AAC Swim season this year (nobody wanted to challenge TCS after back-to-back championships) there were no meets through December and no AAC Championship. This was unfortunate because coaches believe that this would have easily been a 3peat year! Nevertheless, the team used the final weeks of 2020 to rest, recuperate, train, and enjoy family over break.
As the team entered into the New Year, 2021 brought with it a feeling of anxiousness. Anxious to get back into competition that is. They would not have to wait long, however, because on January 8th we headed to Watkinsville to compete with six more GAPPS and GISA schools. This meet saw lots of top ten finishes but was highlighted by Nick Smith’s win in the 200 Freestyle, 8th grader AJ Hormel’s third place in the 50 Freestyle, and two second place finishes in the 100 Freestyle and 50 Breaststroke, 6th grader Alaina Larson’s third place finish in the 50 freestyle, 6th grader Skylar Brown’s second in the 50 Back and third in the 50 Breast, and finally 6th grader Charlotte Morgan’s second in the 50 Breast. The meet resulted in third place finishes overall by both the JV and Varsity by narrow margins.
The regular season came to a close this year on January 22nd when the team traveled, once again, to Watkinsville. Just like last time out, there were 6 other teams from GISA and GAPPS who came out to get one final meet in before state. Though this meet had much stiffer competition, the cougars would not go down without a fight. While almost every swimmer put up personal best times, the biggest improvements were made by Freshman Anna Morris who not only dropped over five seconds on her 50 Freestyle but also nearly twelve seconds on her 100 Freestyle, and Alaina Larson who’s 50 Backstroke dropped nearly nine seconds! As the meet came to a close, the Varsity found themselves in 4th place while the JV boasted a 3rd place finish.
With all of the regular season meets at a close it came time to discover who achieved times throughout the season to award them an invitation to the GISA State Championship Meet. Dating back to 2018, TCS has had at least one student qualify for this meet. This season would be no different as 7 students found their way into qualifying times. Representing the high school, Senior Nick Smith repeated his performance in 2020 by qualifying for both the 50 meter and the 500 meter Freestyle while Junior Alex Hogg qualified for his first appearance at state in the 200 meter Freestyle. Representing the middle school team was 8th Grader AJ Hormel qualified who for the 50 meter Backstroke and the 50 meter Breaststroke, 7th grader Emma Leupold-Cherico who qualified in every single event, and 6th graders Skylar Brown(50 Backstroke), Alaina Larson(50 Backstroke), and Charlotte Morgan(50 Breaststroke).
On January 30th the State Championship meet finally had arrived and although the full 7 were not able to attend the group that attended did not disappoint. With such a small team we proved to be outmatched in the standings but that did not prevent our strong group from giving their all. In his final swim meet at TCS, Nick Smith swam his way to a 26th overall place in his 50 Freestyle(his previous state finish in the event was 52nd) but was unable to overcome the discomfort of a rolled ankle to complete his 500 Freestyle and had to bow out of the event after a valiant effort. In his final meet as a middle school student, AJ Hormel also went all out in his Backstroke and Breaststroke touching the wall in 13th and 20th place respectively. After a slight hiccup in her Butterfly event, Emma Leaupold-Cherico had a strong finish to the season as she recorded a 27th finish in one of the closest 50 Freestyle events in GISA history as well as 19th in her 100 Freestyle. Finishing out the meet, Alaina Larson was able to finish strong in her Backstroke with a 34th place finish and Charlotte Morgan was able to crush her Breaststroke and finish in 21st place.
Although the finishes achieved by this group were phenomenal achievements in themselves, the fact that every cougar in attendance dropped at least one second from their times and even as much as 4.5 seconds! As coaches, Stephen and Jessica could not be more proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this season and both are looking forward to next year and the ability to build on this success.