For the fourth straight year, the Covington Y won the Rockdale Swim League. However, Saturday's results included personal wins as coaches around the six-team league were proud of their teams' overall and individual improvements.
Covington edged the Deer Run Dolphins by just six points in the Rockdale Swim League's County Championship at Johnson Park Saturday, using almost every swimmer to its advantage in picking up the tight victory.
"It's never been that close," said Covington coach and former Meadowbrook Marlin swimmer Erin Gorman.
"You can say it came down to a relay or came down to a third-place individual, cause it was so super close, every race was important. Deer Run is great competition for us. We love competing with them; we have a great friendly relationship with that team; it was fun for it to be so well-matched."
While every race was crucial, Gorman pointed out two that helped clinch it, and two that showed the spirit of the Rockdale Swim League.
Covington's 9 and 12 boys' relay team was made up of athletes who just swim during the summer and don't compete year round. That didn't stop the foursome of Nick Mitchell, Liam Amman, Russ Dollar and Michael Craig, who won the 100-yard freestyle relay in a time of 1:18 and the 100 medley in a time of 1:35.
Also finishing out the 2013 summer season with a successful meet was Miah Bullock, who dropped 10 seconds off her personal best in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing 17th in a time of 53.58.
"You don't have to win against other kids to be successful," Gorman said. "It's all about beating your own personal best times. We had a lot of kids who swam their best times at county. (Miah) didn't win but that didn't matter; she improved so much. That was a really special moment."
Improvement also played a key role in Deer Run's season as it started in the second meet and continued to the seventh and final at Johnson Park Saturday.
"My philosophy has always been improvement," Deer Run coach Taylor Horton said.
"This year, with a lot of new kids, we put a lot of emphasis on making sure they improved with each stroke, week in and week out. They were just dedicated this year. I was proud of each and every one of them, new and returning swimmers.
"For summer league swimming, my main focus is on swimmers. As long as they progress and have fun, that's No. 1 in my book. Winning is nice but it's more about progression."
The third-place Brentwood Barracudas were also impressive Saturday, as more than half the squad was new to the league, with a lot of beginning swimmers.
"We have a lot more swimmers this year than we have ever had before," said Dawn Lane, Brentwood coach.
"We almost doubled in size this year, but we have a lot of absolute beginners. Most of these kids have just learned their strokes."
Brentwood's James Lane and Delaney Willette finished as top swimmers in the 11-12 age group, along with Deer Run's Dax Willette, Damani Young and Brittany Major, along with Jade McPike of Brentwood in the 13-14 age group and Sara Jean Lane of Brentwood and Joey Ellwanger and Jack Mitchell of Covington in the 15-18 age group.
The top eight finishers in each event advanced to the district meet at the Morgan County Aquatics Center July 6.
Of the Rockdale Swim League's 91 representative, 34 district swimmers come from Covington, including first-timer Nickolas Bugera - one of four first-time district placers for the Y.
"We just have really dedicated swimmers who love the sport," Gorman said.
Elizabeth Hwang contributed to this report.