That combination made this year a highly successful one for the county's aquatic athletes, who faced very competitive opponents not only at the state level but also at the local level during the swim season.
Also as a result, there was no shortage of athletes who turned in outstanding times in their respective events and were named to The Daily Tribune News' All County Swim Team.
One of the swimmers etching her name in the water, so to speak, was Cartersville's Elise Hart, who finished in the top 10 in the state in two individual events while also setting two school records at the GHSA Swimming and Diving Finals held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta on Feb. 13.
Hart finished seventh in the state in the 100-yard backstroke and 10th in the 100-yard butterfly.
She also was one of the four members of Cartersville relay team competing in the 200 medley that placed 40th at state. Other team members were Maddie Braid, Hannah Surrett and Erin Williams.
Another top individual performer was Austin Hancock of Adairsville, who included his name as a finisher at the state level, earning a 34th place in the 100-yard backstroke. He holds Bartow County records in the 100 backstroke and 200 medley relay and five Adairsville records. Tyler Ann Herron, also of Adairsville, not only holds school and county records but was the first Adairsville swimmer to qualify for state and to be offered a swimming scholarship.
Woodland High relay teams had their usual huge share of success, with the school's 400 free relay team placing 29th at state. Team members were Bronson Castro, Jack Bucher, Hunter St. Clair and Zach Naelitz. The Wildcats' 200 freestyle team, which included the same members, took 31st place. The school's 200 medley relay team, which included Kenneth Jones, St. Clair, Naelitz and Castro, grabbed 37th place.
The swimming performances probably got some of their zip from the competitiveness the athletes saw from opponents in Bartow County.
For example, a mere 77/100th of a second separated the times of the Cartersville and Woodland 200 freestyle relay teams. The Purple Hurricanes swam the event in 1:54.10, a whisker faster than the 1:54.87 it took the four members of Woodland's team to swim the same event -- a difference of 0.00.77.
That wasn't the closest finishing times among the athletes, either. One race was separated by 0.00.06. Others were separated by less than a second while some were decided by a difference of a couple of seconds.
With that level of competition, it's no wonder local swimmers are becoming increasingly competitive at all levels of competition.
As would be expected, they help make up the members of the Daily Tribune News' All County Swim Team, including Woodland's Naelitz, the Boys Swimmer of the Year, and Cartersville's Hart, the Girls Swimmer of the Year.
200 Medley Relay
-- Kenneth Jones, Hunter St. Clair and Zach Naelitz of Woodland. Their best time for the season was 1:49.67, slightly better than the 1:50.82 mark they set at state.
-- Cartersville's Maddie Braid, Elise Hart, Hannah Surrett, Erin Williams. They won the county championship and placed 40th at the state with a time of 2:05.06.
-- Austin Hancock of Adairsville, with a time of 2:06.81.
-- Hart of Cartersville. Her best time was 2:11.12.
200 Individual Medley
-- Cole Wallace of Adairsville, who posted his best time of 2:16.07 at the Bartow County Swimming Championships.
-- Hart of Cartersville, who turned in a best time of 2:23.45.
-- Naelitz of Woodland, whose best time of the season was 23.70. He claimed the Bartow County championship with a time of 24.36.
-- Tyler Ann Herron of Adairsville, whose time of 26.16 was good enough to win the county championship in the event. She barely edged out Hart of Cartersville, who clocked 26.42.
-- Naelitz of Woodland, who turned in a season's best time of 58.77.
-- Hart of Cartersville, who claimed 10th in the state with her time of 57.58. She had qualified with a time of 1:01.73.
-- Naelitz of Woodland, with a time of 54.00.
-- Hart of Cartersville, 58.29.
-- Connor Heron of Cartersville, whose best time was 5:53.68.
-- Hart of Cartersville in a time of 5:36.23.
200 Freestyle Relay
-- Kenneth Jones, St. Clair, Naelitz and Castro of Woodland, who placed 31st at state with a time of 1:36.31. Their best time of the season was 1:35.9.
-- Cartersville's Erin Williams, Hannah Surrett, Maddie Braid and Hart, 1:54.10.
-- Hancock of Adairsville, with a time of 59.26.
-- Hart of Cartersville placed seventh in the state with a time of 58.40.
-- Hunter St. Clair of Woodland, with a best time of 1:13.82. He edged past Colin Rediger of Cass, with a time of 1:13.88.
-- Herron of Adairsville, who clocked a 1:15.48.
400 Freestyle Relay
-- Castro, Bucher, St. Clair and Naelitz of Woodland, who placed 29th at state with a time of 3:37.22. Their best time of the year, however, was even quicker when they posted 3:35.86.
-- Alison Warren, Samantha Patterson, Ellie Tuck and Lisa Stroud of the Woodland Relay Team A, with a time of 4:35.35.
Honorable Mention, Boys: Adairsville: Miller Barnett, Nic Lawhorn, Jay Potter, Dakota Holt, Josh Anaya, Adam Morgan, John Branton
Cartersville: Griffin Braid, Matthew Siniard, Tommy Morrison, Noah Harper, Jake Andersen
Cass: Anthony Bradway, Colin Rediger, Nathan Soli, Jared Purdy
Woodland: Austin Stone, Zach Putz
Girls: Adairsville: Katlyn Robinson, Kayla Broughton, Kassidi Woodcum, Isabella Crider, Kalyn Simmons, Jessica Cochran, Jesika Moore
Cartersville: Ashton Smith
Cass: Robin Ellenburg, Maile Liu, Hannah Irish, Ashley Martin; Woodland: Haley McHenry, Ashley Owen, Bailee Smith