Written by: Sophia Brady
This year’s 2022-23 Davie High School swim team has experienced one of their most successful seasons in the past few years. After enduring a year of coaching mishaps the season prior, the swim team was ready to show the Central Piedmont Conference how much Davie County has improved. Coaches Tak Hirata, Chad Zuleger, and Lance White began prepping for this season well in advance. After getting all the logistics sorted out, all the coaches started working on team apparel and activities to boost morale and get everyone excited to get back into the water. Coach White has always been a strong supporter of building a culture within a team. A few of the ways he incorporated that into this season was by getting a bus to every away meet and substituting out one practice each month to go to a team dinner. These small actions made a noticeable difference in the culture of the team. Senior Katy Cheeks adds “This year I was a Captain for the swim team. After 4 years of being a dedicated member of the team, I was excited to be someone that the rest of the team could lean on and look to for guidance. The coaches this year really helped to push and guide me. They were honestly my favorite part of this year because I felt like we worked well together.”
The swim team started off strong in early November once tryouts began, once the team was finalized practices immediately started. The swimmers worked extremely hard for the first few weeks of the season and were set to face off with Reagan and Mt. Tabor. This was one of the hardest conference meets of the season but our swimmer prevailed with 12 personal best swims. Although they did not come away with the win, the coaches were more than happy with the willingness to compete from each of the swimmers and knew that this season would be successful. The following meet was between Davie and West Forsyth, this was another extremely competitive conference match-up that Davie could not pull away with the win but the swimmers continued to show growth and resilience.
The first home meet of the season was a tri-meet against Oak Grove and Glenn. This meet was unique because Oak Grove was not in the Central Piedmont Conference like Glenn and Davie. This meant that scoring this meet would be rather difficult, but if Davie was able to win this meet they would be able to not only get their first win of the season but their first two wins. Oak Grove being such a large team made this meet extremely close but with great determination, Davie was able to beat both teams and claim their first two wins at their home pool. This victory was extremely important because even though swimmers were placed in events that were outside of their comfort zone they showed perseverance and were able to believe in not only themselves but the team. The following meet was the Robert Sawyer Invitational held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. This meet was very successful with many swimmers having breakout performances. Among those swimmers, Earnhardt Harris was the standout. Harris swam his personal best 200 IM breaking the all-time Davie record, and later finishing first in his 100 butterfly.
Davie started the new year with two meets. The first was against North Davidson at home, Davie again showed incredible strength by pulling out a huge win against the Black Knights. The next meet was another tri-meet against East Forsyth and Glenn. Davie continued to show that they were a force to be reckoned with by beating both teams in Kernersville. After coming off of these two great wins, Davie began to put in work in preparation for the upcoming conference meet. After coming off these two weeks, Davie was ready for the conference meet. During this meet, each swimmer put in so much effort which directly translated into the 12 individuals that placed in scoring positions and the 26 personal-best swims. This number compared to the four swimmers that placed in the season prior showed that Davie swimming is here to stay and the program is only going to continue to grow and improve with each season. This outstanding meet was a great way to end Davie’s regular season. With regional selections not being finalized the team still continued to practice together until the selections were definitive. When final selections were made the regional team practiced for the next two weeks in preparation for regionals. Swimmers Aiden Davis and Earnhardt Harris both qualified for individual events at regionals with Austin Boswell, Sophia Brady, Wesley Brooks, Katy Cheek, Bryce Harnesberger, Amber McCullough, Elliot Newsome, Lilli Seats, Logan White, and Logan Zuleger all qualifying for relays. Davie came to perform in regionals with many swimmers achieving personal bests. Junior Earnhardt Harris was able to again make states for his 100 butterfly. Harris broke another Davie all-time record during his 100 butterfly swim at states, showing that his hard work and dedication to the Davie swim team truly paid off.
This season was outstanding for Davie County swimming, though they have faced much adversity through the past few seasons they were able to show that they will not allow that to shape the program. Coach Tak Hirata adds “I am incredibly proud of this group. We had a fantastic season and I really enjoyed watching them come together and mature as a team. We were able to build on our hard-working success from last year and saw some incredible growth from both individual performances as well as team mentality perspective. This is a great group of well-rounded student athletes that is starting to create their own identity, and I love that they appreciate each other and enjoy participating in team activities, such as team dinners, holiday get-togethers, and riding the bus together.” He adds “ [that] every single one of our swimmers had improvements in their personal best times. We saw a couple of records go down, won several meets, including a four win streak, scored more people than we have in years at the conference meet, and our boys relay team won All Conference honors. I think they’re starting to believe in what we’ve known all along – that this team can accomplish some amazing things in the next couple of years.”