Madeline Johnston, completing her third year as head coach with the team, said her swimmers jumped in the water against bigger communities and, consequently, faster players as a result of the change.
"I think it has been good for us," Johnston said. "They've had tougher competition, and they've had to push for better times.
"I don't think everyone was quite prepared for this level of competition at first, but after our first meet, everyone had to push a little harder. It's given us more personal goals."
Cartersville Cobias swimmers also got a good look at the better schools in the district by moving up competitively.
"It's the same district, but in the past we didn't get a look at the tougher schools we meet at district," she said. "This year we competed against them during the regular season.
"I think we are better prepared because we have a better understanding of what that competition will be like."
The coach said the team wrapped up its regular season with a 4-1 record, just a bit off from last year's perfect season.
"It's kind of hard to tell how we compare with our swimmers from last year because we lost some good swimmers," she said. "What we can tell is that the times for just about everyone have dropped from the beginning of the season to the end."
She added the team was very close to completing a perfect season.
Johnston said some swimmers improved their times by as much as a minute in some of the lengthier events, such as the 50 freestyle.
While the stiffer competition was a factor, Johnston said, she gives more credit for the improved times is the fact Cobias swimmers put more time in the water toward their sport.
"Our swimmers came to practice every day, even when they didn't necessarily feel like it," she said. "Swimming is a sport where attendance is so important. Some of our families even planned their vacation around the team's meets."
The team will know just how much the tougher competition helped after the final stroke is made in the water at Dalton High. The competition starts at 9 a.m.
The top-three finishers in each competition will be eligible to compete at state, which will be held July 22-23.
Some of the standout performers include: Matthew Monforte, Trenton McDaniel, Kate Justus, Nolan Watson, Cole Wallace, Shane Walters, a senior who will be swimming at Darton in the fall, Zach Naelitz, Alexia Fowler, Harleigh Mobley, Samantha Mobley, Rylee Moss, Brynna Wolfe, Lyrica Miron, Caliope Miron, Skyler Palacios and Austin Barrena.
Johnson also cited a number of Cobias swimmers in their first year with the program, including Samuel Kinney, Nathan King, Tony Bradway, Ashley Merchant, Kaitlin Kinney, Rylee Rule, Molly Miller, Drew Barrere and Andrew Tate.