Brooke Overly was a one-girl swim team last season, but she has some help this year.
Overly, a sophomore at Genoa, and teammates Karleigh Newmeister, a freshman, and senior exchange student Caroline Rulis are carrying the "Genoa flag" into local high school pools in 2008-09.
The 4-11 Overly, who specializes in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 individual medley, said she has been trying to recruit classmates to swim for Genoa.
"Last year was kind of intimidating because of other schools and bigger numbers," said Overly, whose home pool is the YMCA in Oregon. "My coach, Dave Stannert, coaches for the YMCA and is their aquatic director. I swam because I was new and wasn't concentrating on getting new members. It was just to experience it by myself.
"This year it's amazing. I love having the other girls swim with me. It feels like more of a family.
Then you swim for the Y, you know everybody and when they're in high school you're also competing with them. This feels like a family."
At the Northern Lakes League meet Jan. 17 at Bowling Green State University, Overly won the 200 IM in 2:50.6 and placed third in the 500 free (6:52.4), earning 28 points for Genoa.
On Jan. 23, Genoa competed in the South Toledo High School Invitational and Overly took third in both the 100 free and 200 free. She has been swimming competitively since the fourth grade.
"I was approached when I was little and they were asking if I would like to join the swim team," Overly said. "I always liked swimming and I went to the swim team at the YMCA.
"I like the feeling where you can have power but you can also feel free in the water. It's kind of hard to explain. It's just like any other sport. You love it and you get to have friends with you, and being in the water is fun."
Overly, Newmeister and Rulis train for about 90 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and sometimes on Saturdays. They swim about 4,000 meters each day in the 50-meter pool.
"Sometimes you are exhausted," Overly said. "You just want to eat and sleep when you get home."
Newmeister has been swimming competitively for two years and now specializes in the 50 free and 100 free. She also competes in the 200 free and 100 backstroke.
She placed third (2:50.1) in the 200 free and took fifth (1:16.3) in the 100 free at the NLL meet, earning 22 points for Genoa. Newmeister also played on the Comets' junior varsity volleyball team last fall, but she prefers swimming.
"I like it because it's not like any other sport," she said. "I don't have to worry about everybody else on the team. I just have to worry about me."
At the South Toledo High School Invitational, Newmeister took 36 seconds off her PR in the 200 IM and shaved three one-hundredths of a second off her personal best in the backstroke.
Newmeister said she would like to see more girls try out for Genoa's swim team.
"Nobody else at the school does it, so I can explain it to everybody," she said. "No one ever understands that you're not just trying to get points, you're trying to improve your time. Everybody thinks it's so hard. Sometimes it's hard, but it's a lot of fun. I hope more people come out so we can do relays, because we don't have relays right now."
Rulis, a native of Elsingoer, Denmark, was a competitive swimmer in her home country. She said coming to the United States has been a good experience.
Her host family is Sheryl and Miguel Lopez, who have two children attending Genoa.
"I got here in July, but I was in Boston for two weeks and I got to Genoa the first week of August," said Rulis, whose Danish accent is nearly undetectable. "It's different. The school stuff is really different than what I'm used to at home."
Rulis, 16, who has lived in Spain for five years, was a member of Genoa's Drama Club last fall. She swims the 200 free and 500 free, among other events.
She won the 200 free (2:10.8) and was second in the 500 free (5:57.9) at the NLL meet to earn 29 points for Genoa.
Rulis, who is 5-7, has been swimming since age 10.
"I like the exercise because you use the whole body," she said. "I like to be part of the swim team because it feels like a family. At the meets, you're always hanging around and you get to know a lot of new people from other schools. In Denmark, I have connections all around Denmark. It's really cool."
Rulis, who will return to Denmark on July 10, said it's easier to swim in the U.S. because this country uses yard measurements instead of meters.
"I like it much more over here," she said. "With yards, I can get more power to it, and every time I swim I get better and better."