After a hugely successful season last year the 2012 Jefferson swim team will look a lot different this summer.
The 2011 team took third place at the GRPA district swim meet, won the District 7 swim meet (defeating 10-time state champion Oconee All-Stars) and finished runner-up in the North Georgia Swim League but loses its coach and several key performers.
“We are not only losing a lot of swimmers but we lost our head coach this year,” team president Chad Klinck said. “Coach Matthew Grant left after earning his doctorate from UGA, and I can’t say enough about what he did for us in his four years here. We are just lucky to find another great coach to follow him in coach Tess.”
Tess Nunnally is a former nationally ranked age group swimmer and happens to live five miles from the Jefferson City Pool. She has coached swimming off-and-on for the last 20 years and luckily for Jefferson has a 5-year-old ready to start swimming.
“The other big challenge for us this year is that we are losing a lot of long-time swimmers from the team,” Klinck said. “We have had very little turnover in kids for the last six years and now we have a lot of teenagers who are ready to try some different things. We want to keep them forever but that’s the way swim team works.”
Klinck said another thing that has hurt the swim team’s development is that none of the local high schools field a team.
“Commerce started a team this year and I am really happy for their kids,” Klinck said. “They all work hard and deserve to be able to swim in High School. I’m just ready for our kids to have that opportunity.”
Some Jefferson parents did start a club middle school age team this past year and the team “did very well,” according to Klinck.
“We’ve got some very, very talented swimmers around here and I just want to keep them in the pool,” he said. “Kids, and parents, have trouble seeing a future with swimming if there is no high school team.”
The Sea Dragons expect to fill their roster of 125 swimmers — the same as last year — but instead of the normal 30 new faces there could be 70. A lot of kids who have never been to a state swim meet could get a chance this year.
“I love seeing new swimmers,” Klinck said. “They beat their times every race and when they qualify for state for the first time it is priceless.”
What is the biggest misconception about the swim team?
“That you live at the pool and practice is all the time, every day,” Klinck explained. “We practice about one-hour a night three nights a week,” he said. “We offer nine meets and you can do as many as you want. Parents don’t have to stay at practice and meets are fun.”
Registration just opened for the seventh season of the Jefferson Sea Dragon swim team. The team is open to anyone in the county and registration runs through April 20.
May 2: parent orientation and swimmer evaluations
May 7: evening practice begins
June 6: mock meet (home)
June 9: pentathlon (at Winder)
June 14: dual meet (at Shamrock)
June 16: SPLASH Meet (at Habersham)
June 20: dual meet (away at Commerce)
June 23: Invitational (at Dacula)
July 7: GPRA District Meet
July 11: dual meet (at Athens Dolphins)
July 13-14: NGSL League Championships
July 20-21: GPRA State Meet