This indoor pool at Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheater will be jam-packed this weekend, as nearly 1,000 swimmers will come to town for the annual Alabama Recreation & Parks Association State Swim meet.

The meet will run Friday and Saturday at the park, and showcases the top summer swimmers in the state, with swimmers ranging from as young as five, all the way up to high schoolers who will swim for their schools when the AHSAA season starts.

For longtime swim coaches like Patrick Williams of the Boaz Barracudas, it’s the first time in as far back as he can remember that the state meet has come to Marshall County.

“It’s big,” Williams said of the meet and its impact on the area. “In the past we’ve had to travel to place like Birmingham or Opelika, Valley, Cullman, but this is the first time in a very long time that we’ve had state meet in Marshall County, it’s good that we can sleep in our own beds and that it’s right down the road.”

A meet of this magnitude is no easy task, with first-year Albertville Swim Team coach Michael Kerr leaning on Williams and other coaches for help, particularly after Boaz hosted the district swim meet just two weeks ago.

“This is one of the biggest sporting events that’s come to Marshall County all year, and they’ll see thousands of swimmers,” Kerr said of the event. “It’s just a great sight to see, everybody coming together and gets to do what they love.

Boaz has hosted districts before, but this is the first time I believe Albertville has ever hosted state. It’s a very big deal, it’s exciting for me as a first-year coach to be able to host this event, it’s nerve-wracking at the same time, but Coach Williams from Boaz and all the coaches there have been helping out this weekend, which is very helpful, my assistant and I both swam for Boaz so they’re really on our side in this in helping us out on how to set this meet up.”

That help has been needed with the size of the meet and the thousands of people it will bring to town, with not just swimmers making the trip, but family and friends who will also come to town to watch.

“A lot of our people have given them some help because of the size of the meet and what it entails,” Williams added. “We had about 675 swimmers at the district meet, and I think there’s around 900 for the state meet, you compound that with the parents and grandparents and friends, and I think it has a pretty good impact on the area.”

The action is slated to start at 10 a.m. each day, and the local swim team will be well-represented, with over 100 swimmers from Albertville and Boaz qualifying for the meet in their respective events.

Albertville will see 31 swimmers in the water this weekend, and according to Kerr, the team is peaking at the right time after flipping the switch earlier in the summer season.

“We qualified 31 out of 36 for state,” Kerr said. “That is a fairly small team for Albertville, I think due to COVID is why it’s a small team, but this team is good, this team has gone from the bottom and has shown us that they can be at the top if they want to be. We have plenty of people that are ready to medal at state, and with 31 people, that’s a pretty big deal. This team hasn’t always been a winning team, but this year they had a spark and went out and competed their hardest, and now I look at them as a winning team.”

Boaz has been dominant this season, going 11-1 in meets according to Williams, and capturing the Barracudas’ ninth-straight Marshall County Championship along the way. The Barracudas will send 84 swimmers to this weekend’s races.

“We’ve had a really good year,” Williams added. “We qualified 84 kids for state, which is about normal for us. We sent about 125 to districts, so 84 of those qualified. At Boaz we’ve had a long tradition of excellence being a good team, and we want to continue doing that.”

While the summer swimming circuit is a recreational one, it is still a chance for kids to learn to compete in a sport that is slightly different from others. While other sports have a score or team element, swimming, like track and field, athletes can compete against themselves and try to better their personal times, and if that means a ribbon or medal at the end of the day, even better.

“It’s a recreational program, we have kids ages 5 to 18 on our team, and we train all summer long really to get to these championship meets,” Williams added. “I have a tremendous staff and we have some really great swimmers, our goal is to give the kids something to do in the summer, and swimming is unlike a lot of other sports in that a kid is competing against themselves and trying to beat their time every time they swim. Sometimes they’ll win ribbons and medals, sometimes they don’t, but they always have that opportunity to swim against their time and better their time, and that’s what we try to focus on with our team is trying to get the kids to have small successes that lead to larger successes.”

For Kerr, it’s about helping kids realize their potential, and possible long term goals in swimming.

“My goal, is to make these swimmers understand team sportsmanship, and not get mad when you lose.” Kerr concluded. “A lot of these swimmers want to go to college, and that’s what I’m here for, I want to push these swimmers to be who they want to be, and hopefully I can get them there someday. I would say that don’t underestimate it, it may not look like much, but it’s harder than what it looks, but at the end of the day it’s all for fun.”

The official races will start at 10 a.m. each day at the indoor pool at SMPA. Admission to each day of the event is $7 with free parking at the SMPA lots. Medals will be awarded for first through eighth place in individual events, with first through fourth receiving medals in the relays.

The event schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Friday, Races Start at 10 a.m.

8&under 100 Medley Relay

9&10 100 Medley Relay

11&12 200 Medley Relay

13&14 200 Medley Relay

15&18 200 Medley Relay

8&under 25 Breast

9&10 50 Breast

11&12 50 Breast

13&14 50 Breast

15&18 50 Breast

One Hour Break

6&under 25 Free

8&under 25 Free

9&10 50 Free

11&12 50 Free

13&14 50 Free

15&18 50 Free

8&under 100 IM

9&10 100 IM

11&12 100 IM

13&14 100 IM

15&18 100 IM  

Saturday, Races Start at 10 a.m.

6&under 100 Free Relay

8&under 100 Free Relay

9&10 200 Free Relay

11&12 200 Free Relay

13&14 200 Free Relay

15&18 200 Free Relay

8&under 25 Fly

9&10 25 Fly

11&12 50 Fly

13&14 50 Fly

15&18 50 Fly

One Hour Break

6&under 25 Back

8&under 25 Back

9&10 50 Back

11&12 50 Back

13&14 50 Back

15&18 50 Back

8&under 50 Free

9&10 100 Free

11&12 100 Free

13&14 100 Free

15&18 100 Free

(3) comments

SherriB

What a fabulous opportunity for the new Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheater and a great addition to your community to host this event.

Leejrfan88

I totally agree! So glad there are things to do for our children and what an opportunity for them all this is simply a blessing.

Leejrfan88

I haven't heard of a skate park that would also give the kids and adults a like something to do together for roller blades and skate boarding competitions of their own that would be awesome.

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