By Danna Subia
After a season full of doubt and changes, the Newnan Cougars came out victorious at the annual county Tri-Meet against East Coweta and Northgate High School.
The day of the County Championship Meet, Newnan swimmers woke up for their final five a.m. practice of the season, ready to prepare themselves for a day of competition and sportsmanship. Not expecting more than to enjoy being a team for one last time, the Cougars were excited to swim their best and congratulate their senior teammates on their senior night.
This season was witness to many different changes on the NHS Swim Team. Head Coach Jami Bonomi commented that this season was a transition for everyone, including herself, “This year was very different from any other year. We only had one practice a week with the team. Swimmers were not required to swim elsewhere, but they were highly encouraged to join any local swim clubs for training.”
Newnan High School does not have a pool itself, so the team swims at the local YMCA. The other schools in the county also share the pool. In previous years the team practiced together throughout the week. This year the team only practiced once a week together on Tuesday mornings, it was up to the swimmers themselves to join a club team to practice with during the rest of the week.
Swimmers such as Bethany Schenk swam with SwimAtlanta. Many such as Matthew Schulz and Samina Ahmed decided to swim with the Carrollton Bluefins team during the week. Most of the others swam with Newnan based Titans.
Not only was the practice schedule different, but also those in charge. This was Coach Bonomi’s first year as the Head Coach. The change was not that difficult for the swimmers, because Coach Bonomi had been an Assistant Coach as well as involved with the NHS Swim Team as long as each of her three children were a part of it.
Swim Team Co-Captain Caleb Perry commented “I think she did a great job. We had a couple bumps in the road, but that was expected because it was her first time being Head Coach. She made a great environment for new swimmers and changes I appreciated.”
At the County Championship Tri-Meet, Caleb took home first in the 200 IM and 100 Breastroke. He qualified for the State meet in three different events by the end of the season.
Bonomi herself found the journey as head coach exciting yet challenging, “Being that this was my first season to be in charge, I wanted to make sure we survived with smiles.”
She explained the most difficult part of coaching as typing in all of the information on every swimmer’s events before the meet, “ I wanted to make sure everyone got to swim the maximum amount of time as possible.”
Leading up to the County Tri-Meet, the Cougars had open expectations for their performance. After spending a whole season adjusting to changes and working on their different strengths with different teams, none of them really knew what to expect.
Swim Co-Captain and NHS senior, Sophia Bonomi was expecting something completely different than the outcome. When asked if she was anticipating a win she answered “No not at all, actually we thought we would get third place.”
Sophia herself was one of the reasons for the win. At her final meet as a Senior Cougar, she swam her fastest time in the Women’s 100 breastroke, coming in second right behind teammate Bethany Schenck.
Some of the other highlights of the night were Gabe Griffith and Hunter Mercier coming in first and second place in the Men’s 500 Freestyle. Gabe Griffith also won second place in the 100 Butterfly.
Having strong, dedicated swimmers was definitely one of the reasons the Cougars brought home the trophy, but the most vital part of the meet was their strength in numbers. Coach Bonomi recalled, “The fact that we had enough swimmers to make two medley relay teams was vital. The other two high schools couldn’t do that. More swimmers equals more points!”
Overall, the Cougars had a great season, and an even better surprise ending when they reclaimed the title of Coweta County Champions.