By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – The new Tupelo Aquatic Center will become the center of the state’s swimming universe this week when it hosts the Mississippi Swim Association’s Long Course State Championships.
The four-day meet is scheduled to begin this morning with the age 8-under state championship meet. The state meet for the remaining age divisions – 10-under, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-over – will begin tonight.
The preliminaries will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings while the consolation and finals each day will start at approximately 5 p.m.
“It’s a big deal to host this meet,” Tupelo Shockwave coach Lucas Smith said. “We’ll have swimmers from 15 to 20 teams here competing. I’m excited for our community.”
Tupelo last hosted the state long course meet at Rob Leake City Park pool in 1996. The Shockwave’s last state championship in long course came in 2009.
The swimming facility hosted the state short course meet and a regional masters swim meet earlier this year and more plans are ahead. Last month, the Mississippi High School Activities Association awarded its 2015 State Swim Championships to Tupelo. Earlier this year, it was announced Tupelo would host the Southern Zone Age Group Championships July 28-Aug. 2, 2015.
“It’s a fast pool,” Smith said. “The racing will be really fast. It’s a championship facility.”
Some of the top entries joining the Shockwave will be Delta, Biloxi, Hattiesburg, Columbus and three teams from Jackson. The Shockwave team is made up of Tupelo, Oxford and Starkville swimmers.
“This is your state championship and it pretty much signals the end of the season,” Smith said. “Swimmers will be able to qualify for nationals with times in this meet.”
The pool setup will be eight lanes and 50 meters, an Olympic-style course. There is no limit to how many swimmers a team can enter in an event. The top 16 will score and move on.