Swimming doesn't have cheerleaders, but Nick Cannon might be as close as you can get.
Known for his perpetual encouragement of his teammates as well as his performance in the water, Cannon serves a dual role for Cox Mill's swim team.
A senior and two-time team captain, Cannon is aiming for his third trip to the 3A state championship meet, including his second for the Chargers. Though he was disappointed to be redistricted from Northwest Cabarrus after his sophomore year, Cannon's move has turned out quite nicely for him and his new school.
Cannon started swimming year-round for the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club in the fifth grade. Before he would walk away from year-round swimming just last year, he would make some of his first impressions as a great teammate.
During his eighth- and ninth-grade years, Cannon earned SwimMAC's Coaches Award because "I encouraged my teammates a lot," he said. SwimMAC helped shape his swimming skills by giving him exposure to all of the sports' strokes and events.
Cannon also swam in the summers for the Northwest Swim Club. His coaches were Bob Ringer and Hubert Williams, who would also be his coaches for his two years at Northwest Cabarrus.
By the time he reached high school, Cannon's best individual events were the 100-yard backstroke and 500-yard freestyle. He qualified for regionals in both events his freshman year. The 200-medley and 400-freestyle relay teams, for which he was an alternate, qualified for the state meet.
As a sophomore, he competed at the state championships in the 200-yard individual medley and in the 200-medley and 400-freestyle relays. Both relay teams finished in the top four. Cannon earned All-South Piedmont Conference honors for the second straight year.
Cannon's junior year brought much change for him - and not just a change in schools. In September 2009, he decided to give up year-round swimming to dedicate more time toward other school activities including student council and drama club.
And Cannon's affinity toward acting brings us to the famous television and movie personality he shares names with, who also happens to be married to Mariah Carey. He says someone asks him or jokes about it "at least every day."
"I like it," said Cabarrus County's Nick Cannon. "It lets people have a good time with it. People can say they know Nick Cannon."
Unsettled at first by the prospect of having to transfer to first-year Cox Mill, Cannon found his new environment more comforting after he was elected junior class president. Taken in by his outgoing personality, coach Jamie Carter nominated Cannon for team captain and he was one of six elected by his teammates.
"Everyone gets along with him," said Carter. "He was one of the top picks. I go to him if I want to do something fun with team."
Cannon said he wants to make sure his teammates are always having a good time.
"It's easy to get discouraged if the water is cold or you're having a bad meet," he said. "I don't like to see that from my teammates and my friends. I want them to see the bright side and that they are there to have fun."
Cannon helped Cox Mill to an extremely successful inaugural season. The Chargers finished seventh as a team at the state meet with the aid of a few top 12 finishes from Cannon.
Individually, he placed seventh in the 100-yard backstroke and 11th in the 200-yard freestyle. He swam the first leg on relays that placed fifth (200-medley) and sixth (400-freestyle).
This year, Cannon's main goal is to improve on last year's state meet performance.