Times-News file photo.
KINGSPORT — Nearly 300 swimmers from the Tri-Cities region are expected to converge on the Kingsport Aquatic Center this Saturday to attend the facility’s first-ever swim meet.
The East Tennessee Summer Swim League is bringing in 292 swimmers, ages 5 to 18, in seven teams to compete in a four-hour meet beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. The event will feature individual and team relays and medleys of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle swimming.
Kari Matheney, director of the Kingsport Aquatic Center, explained the races will be mainly 25- and 50-meter events with a couple of 100-yard events.
“It’s a summer league swim meet; local groups that do summer swim programs that get people into swimming. A trial to see if they want to get into competitive swimming,” Matheney said. “It’s not the year-round teams that’ll bring in groups from out of town.”
Generally, summer leagues run from mid-May to the end of July with dual meets (where two teams compete) or tri-meets (with three teams) with all of the teams ending the season with a championship meet. Matheney said that’s what’s taking place on Saturday at the aquatic center.
“(The meet) is not on a large scale, so it’ll give us a good gauge on how swim meets are going to run, where we need to make modifications and where we can make it flow smoother,” Matheney said. “It’ll be a good test run for us and to allow the swimmers the ability to compete in a nice environment.”
The event is free and open to the public. The indoor play and warm water pools will be open as normal on Saturday, as will the outdoor water features beginning at 10 a.m. Only the 50-meter competition pool will be off limits to public swimming during the course of the meet.
“It’ll be a little challenging for us, as far as staffing goes and directing patrons,” Matheney said.
The Kingsport Aquatic Center has another, larger swim meet scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27 and a third one scheduled for June 2014. Matheney said those two meets will bring in swimmers from out of town, such as Knoxville, Chattanooga and farther out, who will stay in local hotels during the event.
On a related note, the city of Kingsport has requested proposals for a scoreboard and timing system for the aquatic center, equipment specifically for use during future swim meets, diving competitions, water polo and semiautomatic track timing. The deadline for the proposals is Aug. 14, and Matheney said the system should be installed by the October swim meet.