It was a bit subtle at first.
And then it featured a little more pizzazz a few weeks later.
Now, Hudson junior swimmers Giovanna Cappabianca and Paige McCormick probably wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if their fun little tradition didn’t take place.
Cappabianca has enjoyed her time with the Explorers since she joined the team last season.
Hudson has enjoyed her company, too.
Thanks to Cappabianca and her partner in crime, McCormick, the Explorers finished third at the 2018 Division I state meet.
Cappabianca, who transferred to Hudson from Walsh Jesuit, did her part with a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley and a 14th-place time in the 100 butterfly.
She also joined McCormick on the second-place 200 medley relay team and the fifth-place 400 freestyle relay team.
Cappabianca certainly hopes to reach the state meet in Canton again. This time, she plans to chop down a certain barrier.
"I hope to break two minutes in my 200 IM," Cappabianca said. "It’s more the time goal rather than the place, but I would love to go for top two."
Cappabianca will have plenty of motivation to reach her goal in the 200 IM. That’s because McCormick swims the same event. McCormick finished fourth in the 200 IM at the 2018 state competition.
It’s not uncommon to see Cappabianca and McCormick swimming side by side. Let’s just say they acknowledge each other’s presence a little differently than the rest of us.
So what do these two fun-loving teenagers do?
They touch their lips with their index fingers and then wiggle the same finger at each other.
"I was just in a weird mood and I did it," Cappabianca said. "We just died laughing. We always seem to be right next to each other. We did it to ease the mood."
Cappabianca originally swam with the Cuyahoga Falls Tigersharks before joining the Hudson Explorers Aquatics Team, which is led by Hudson head coach Matt Davis.
"I’ve known Giovanna for awhile," Davis said. "She has been swimming in our area for a long time. She actually practiced with us little bit growing up. She came over to us the last two years of middle school."
Cappabianca didn’t have a ton of competition in her races when she was younger. Since she joined the HEAT and the Hudson High School team, Cappabianca has been facing elite swimmers in just about every race.
One of those swimmers includes her finger-wagging partner.
"I love practicing with her (McCormick)," Cappabianca said. "I know where I’m at in the big scheme of things. She’s a really good swimmer and we both scored at states. It helps me put things in perspective."
Davis, who has been at Hudson since 2005, doesn’t put together training sessions for average people. When Davis and his swimmers reach Ada Cooper Natatorium, it’s full throttle from beginning to end.
There is no rest and there is no time for being satisfied with one performance. Davis wants to make champions in the pool. Therefore, there are no free passes or shortcuts.
Fortunately for Cappabianca, such a challenging approach is right up her alley.
"Giovanna is a hard worker," Davis said. "She will do everything she needs. She will put in extra time outside the pool. She’ll come in early; she’ll stay later than she needs to so she can work on her craft. She really takes it super seriously.
"If something isn’t right, she is in the water trying to figure it out."
Cappabianca is planning to continue her tradition with her classmate in the 200 IM. She also is expected to play a major role on any of the three relay teams.
However, Cappabianca, what her second event will be this winter. That doesn’t matter, though. The talented junior will be happy to swim just about anything.
"Whatever is best for the team or whatever Matt wants me to do, I’m cool," Cappabianca said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.