PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay High swim team is sending athletes to regional competition after starting the season without a head coach or a team.

The boys and girls swim team placed fifth out of seven in district competition.

“I always joke with the kids,” Bay High first-year head swim coach Eric Henderson said. “I don’t really care about winning, but I want to disrupt the status quo and unfortunately, the status quo involves winning. So that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

At the start of the school year, there was no head coach, meaning there was no swim team. Eric Henderson who had zero coaching experience stepped up to take on the position because when he was in high school he joined the swim team. He said his decision to join the swim team changed his life.

“I was devastated at the idea that we would possibly not have a swim team at our school, and the kids would be deprived of the chance that I had,” Henderson said.

The team started with just one swimmer, but quickly a team began to form.

“One, turned into two, then to turn in six and six, seven and eight, and then they turned into 15,” Henderson said. “

On top of all the other adversity, the team started the season a month late. 80% of the team hadn’t swam competitively before this year.

“I never saw myself as a coach, but I get I’ll say it, I get all teary when I see them out there,” Henderson said.

With an underclassmen-heavy team, Henderson said the future for the program is bright.

There are four female swimmers from Bay qualified for the regional competition. Those athletes will compete in Ocala on Thursday, October 26 for the Class 2A Region One competition.