ATHENS—The Oconee Swim League championship trophy won’t have to leave the spot in the Summer Hill office, where it has sat for three summers straight.
Wednesday night the Barracudas held off Shamrock and Oconee Club to win their fourth straight Oconee Swim League Championship in the University of Georgia’s Gabrielsen Natatorium.
The Barracudas earned 688 total points edging Shamrock who finished with 499 total points, which earned them second place, Oconee Club earned third place with 476 points.
Throughout the summer the Barracudas had their eyes on capturing their fourth straight title. They were pushed and there were anxious faces while the scores were read over the Gabrielsen Natatorium public announcement system.
A three-week game of wait and see came to an end with the entire Summer Hill team leaping into the pool just as head coach Scott Burrell’s North Oconee High School teams have done in their run to their five straight Area Championships.
Burrell has experienced the thrill and pressure of keeping a streak going. The short season makes chasing the summer title stressful, but never will it be taken for granted by Burrell. Each of the Summer Hill teams that have been different and faced different challenges on their way to their respective titles.
This season, a short schedule and a hard-charging duo of Shamrock and Oconee Club made things different than in the past.
The last few years the Barracudas entered and exited the summer season as the favorites. They have had dominant swimmers and the numbers to out-point the competition.
This season the Barracudas knew the competition had closed the gap, but after a rainout of their meet against Shamrock, Burrell didn’t have a true gauge of the competition.
Family vacations, year-round club swimming and other summer activities expanded and extended the Barracudas’ lineup throughout the season.
Burrell found it difficult to truly gauge what the Barracudas were going to look like on Wednesday night.
Only when the scores were announced did the tension recede and the joy of a fourth straight championships sink in.
“We definitely don’t take it for granted,” Burrell said. “We had a lot of returners, but we also had a lot of new swimmers and then some that were doing other things and didn’t do it this year. We really had to work hard to keep as many together as we could. There was a lot of question marks early on with different age groups and missing some people and trying to see how that would look. I really was a little concerned with that. The kids just really improved throughout the season to get to where we were today.
I’m really proud of our effort. Our practices have been awesome.”
The Barracudas’ individual improvements don’t fall on Burrell.
The Barracudas send over 150 swimmers to the pool in every meet.
For more on this story, see the June 27 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.