Meanwhile the Darlington swim team is setting its own goals to accommodate a small roster.
Leading the way for Rome is Samson Mumber, who took third in state in the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard butterfly in his junior season. Mumber has qualified for state in several events already, including the 100-yard butterfly.
Mumber took first in the event Thursday with a time of 53.92 in a tri-meet against Calhoun and Darlington at Rome High. Mumber also holds the school record for the butterfly with a time of 51.96.
Rome head coach Joey Powers is looking to Mumber and the other seniors to take the lead and guide the younger swimmers through a successful season.
“This year our younger kids are seeking their purpose and finding their role,” Powers said. “We were very successful last year, and those seniors are picking up the slack. I’m having these seniors take these freshmen and sophomores under their wings and show them how swimming’s not all about yards and seconds. It’s about fellowship and having fun, and the joy of the sport. As long as they enjoy that we’ll keep building the program — keep it growing.”
Darlington head coach Alicia Raymond, in her third year with the team, had to prioritize her goals for her team to meet the needs of a smaller squad, and so far, the coach has seen the team flourish.
“We’re a small team, but we definitely have good quality,” Raymond said. “We’re small, but we’re constantly improving. PRs (personal records) are being hit every meet, so it’s a good season. I told them at the beginning of the season, ‘Focus on you. Focus on how you can improve as a swimmer.’ We’ve reshifted the focus and it’s helping them do the best with what they can do.”
Raymond’s team is comprised of only four girls and seven boys, with junior Jordan Hellier and senior Jack Eady providing encouraging results for Raymond.
For Rome Kenta Davis returns for his senior season after taking fifth place in the 50-yard freestyle in state last year. On the girls’ side, returning for her senior season is Viola Hasko, who owns the school record for the girls’ 100-yard breastroke with a time of 1:09.10.
“We’re definitely blessed to have some incredible swimmers,” Powers said. “They’re not only pushed by the other teams, but they’re pushed by each other as well.”
Darlington will host a meet Tuesday, and Rome High will host Gilmer and Etowah next Thursday.