Editorial: Hard work pays off: Congratulations to the state champion Dalton High boys swimming and diving team

After a one-year absence, the Dalton High School boys swimming and diving team brought the state championship back home.

From Feb. 6-8 at The McAuley Aquatic Center on Georgia Tech's campus in Atlanta, the 13 team members went up against the best swimmers and divers in the state in their classification. By late evening on Feb. 8, the Catamounts were the 2020 Georgia High School Association 6A swimming and diving champions. Dalton beat Alpharetta High School (445 points to 411 points) to claim its second title in three years.

Swimming and diving on the high school level doesn't draw the crowds of baseball, basketball, football or soccer. But the athletes who spend hours upon hours in the pool honing their skills deserve to be celebrated as much as those who play the more popular spectator sports.

The Dalton swimming and diving team trains basically year-round to be at their peak when the state championships come around each February. And this year, they definitely peaked at the perfect time.

The team had a combined seven first-place finishes (either individual or team events). It was also a record-breaking performance for Dalton's 200-medley relay team as they set a state record -- Oscar Chenard, Henry Bethel, Ross Emilio Valdez and Jack Forthman combined to finish the event in 1:32.25. Westminster School in 2016 set the previous record of 1:32.30.

We congratulate the team members, and we also recognize the contributions of countless others who helped them achieve this tremendous goal. The coaches, volunteers, parents, family, friends, teachers, administrators, mentors and many others are played a part in the state title.

Members of the championship team are:

• Jake Barnes, senior

• Oscar Chenard, senior

• Jack Forthman, senior

• Charlie McClurg, senior

• Ross Emilio Valdez, senior

• Henry Bethel, junior

• Daniel Melgarejo, junior

• Matthew Shaheen, junior

• Jayden Bearden, sophomore

• Patrick Calderon-Schuler, sophomore

• Bruno Valdez, sophomore

• Roman Valdez, sophomore

• Orrin Withrow, sophomore

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