By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – The new Tupelo Aquatic Center has been selected as the host venue for this year’s Mississippi High School Activities Association Class I and II State Swim Championships.
The meet, scheduled for Nov. 1, will feature the state’s top high school swimmers competing for individual and team championships.
The meet’s host, Tupelo High School, a winner of 21 state swimming titles, is the defending Class II state champion in boys and girls.
Tupelo has hosted the MHSAA’s North state meet, but has never hosted the overall state meet. Last year’s state meet was held at Delta State University.
Tupelo High School swim coach Lucas Smith said he believes swimming at home offers his team a competitive advantage.
“When you swim in front of a home crowd it has to be an advantage,” he said. “You are practicing where you’re going to race.
“It’s an advantage knowing the walls, knowing the blocks. That’s huge in high school when all the races are close.
“It ought to be fun swimming at home.”
MHSAA associate director Lonnie Tillman said the association and the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau have worked in the past to build a partnership. Tupelo hosted the MHSAA’s Grand Slam in basketball in 2007 and ’08.
“That relationship, coupled with the new swim facility in Tupelo, helped lay the groundwork for this opportunity,” Tillman said in a statement. “The MHSAA is excited about conducting a state championship event in Tupelo.
“There is no doubt the Tupelo Aquatic Center will provide long-term benefits for both the MHSAA and its schools.”
The qualifiers from the North (Flowood) and South (Biloxi) meets will advance to Tupelo for the championships in two classes: Class II for 5A and 6A schools and Class I for 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A schools.
This will be the third state meet hosted by the Tupelo facility. The Mississippi Swim Association’s State Short Course meet was held here in February, and the State Long Course meet is scheduled for late July.
“Tupelo is ready to welcome MHSAA and the schools who will participate in the state championship swim meet,” said Seth Gaines, Sales Manager for Sports with the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.