By JB Clark
TUPELO – The new Tupelo Aquatic Center is hosting its first swim meet today.
The Shockwave Aquatic Swim Team Winter Meet is expected to attract between 150 and 250 swimmers, according to Seth Gaines of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The $12 million facility was built in part to boost Tupelo’s ability to attract state and regional events to the city.
Merrie Hughes, a member of the Shockwave board, said the meet will be smaller in scale than upcoming meets due to other swimming events in Auburn, Ala., and Memphis as well as Disciple Now weekends planned for many area churches.
“Small is good since it’s our first real meet,” Hughes said. “We expect swimmers from Starkville, Oxford, Sheffield, Ala., New Albany and Meridian.”
The long distance events were held Friday night and this morning, swimmers 10 and under will begin competing. The 11 and older swimmers will begin Saturday afternoon and continue into Sunday.
Hughes said many of their younger swimmers are competing for their first time and the smaller meet will help prepare them.
“They get a little nervous their first time,” she said.
Many swimmers are using this weekend to prepare for a much larger meet the last weekend in January, in which Hughes said they expect to fill and show off the new facility.
Hughes called this weekend the first “real” swim meet at the new aquatic center because a small meet was held at the center’s grand opening.
“It was a fun thing for the grand opening,” she said.
At the opening day event, Olympic gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay set a 50-meter freestyle pool record of 21.33 seconds.