“Parents had been pushing for teams at the other schools. I guess since North did so well they decided to expand it,” said Kait Woods, shared head coach of all five teams.
North went to the state meet in 2012 and brought home an individual state championship.
Woods said Paulding County Schools Superintendent Cliff Cole wanted to offer the sport at all the county high schools.
There are a varied number of swimmers for each team as East Paulding has 14, Hiram has four, South Paulding has three and Paulding County, one.
Since Woods is listed as the head coach for all teams, when it comes to meets, her assistant coaches have to play a larger role — Danny Caylor for East, Rie Cowan and Laura Runco for Hiram, Sherri Almond for Paulding County and Shannon Parris for South.
All the teams practice together at Bentwater Golf Club in Acworth and, while they are all from different schools, Woods said they have a special thing going that most counties’ swimmers do not.
“They’re all bonded as a team. There’s rivalry, but they all get along as well. At meets they all cheer for each other and everything,” Woods said.
With this being their first year, Woods said swimmers struggled in the beginning to even do the simplest tasks, but now they are all making great progress every time they get in the pool.
“They’ve come so far. At first they were struggling to do two laps, now they’re doing 24 laps and they all continue to drop times,” Woods said.
When it comes to picking the top swimmers from these four schools, Woods said it’s a difficult request as they are all within two seconds of each other. But she was able to name three top swimmers — Josh Coleman, Casey Hoffman and Alex Mendoza.
Coleman is a senior from East and his best time is a 28.29 in the 50-meter freestyle. Hoffman is a junior from East and her best time is a 30.31 in the 50 free. Mendoza is a sophomore from East and his best time is a 28.16 in the 50 free.
With three more meets before the state meet, Woods said these brand new swimmers are “pushing hard” to make the times necessary to qualify.
With Woods being the head coach for all the teams, she said she appreciates all the support and help from the parents and couldn’t do it without them.