By JB Clark
TUPELO – More than 150 swimmers competed in the Tupelo Aquatic Center’s first swim meet Saturday, their family and friends watching from the rows of bleachers.
“We wanted a small meet to start out with because we didn’t know how everything was going to work – breaking in the new equipment,” said Shockwave swim coach Lucas Smith. “But, oh man, it’s rocking.”
While the wind blew and temperatures never rose above 52 degrees outside, the Aquatic Center stayed warm and full of spectators.
Smith was excited to be in the new facility with his swimmers and was happy to show it off to visiting teams.
Teams from around the region came to Tupelo to compete in the meet, which began Friday night and runs until this afternoon.
Swimmers traveled from Oxford, Starkville, New Albany, Ripley and Sheffield, Ala., but the majority were from the Tupelo area.
“We have over 100 Shockwave swimmers today,” Smith said. “That’s what we wanted. We didn’t want to bring a lot of people in and then something go wrong our first time. It’s gone better than expected.”
Shockwave swimmer Grant Thornton, 18, stood next to the pool around 1 p.m. as he prepared to compete in the 200-meter individual medley, which involves two laps of butterfly, two laps of backstroke, two laps breaststroke and two laps freestyle.
Thornton said he was glad to be swimming in the new facility.
“From what I understand, this is the best facility in the state,” he said. “Everyone has been impressed with it so far.”
He said the day began with a few very minor hiccups, like one pool being an inch to shallow, but all-in-all the meet was a success.
“You can’t even compare this to swimming in the bubble,” he said of the old temporary housing for the pool at Rob Leake City Park. “It was just suffocating. This is so much better.”
Hundreds of spectators were in and out of the facility throughout the day to cheer on swimmers and check out the new facility.