State swim meet lost in Super 6 hype

Published 1:27 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More than 70 high schools across the state competed for a state championship Friday and Saturday. That’s right, 78 to be exact.

While the Super 6 football championships were being played in Birmingham, swimmers and divers from across the state gathered in Tuscaloosa for the AHSAA state swim meet.

Show of hands for those of you who knew that the event was even going on — coaches and parents, you don’t count.

The AHSAA married into an exclusive partnership with last year, but there was not exclusive live coverage of this event. It was all football, football, football. And that’s understandable, considering it was the same day as the Class 6A overtime battle with Hoover and Prattville and the SEC Championship game.

While, the AHSAA did a very good job to update its own Web site the night of the event with results, the state meet was lost in the heavy football activity of the first Saturday in December.

Don’t get me wrong, it made for a great story last year. Briarwood Christian diver Mary Catherine Cochran won a state title in Auburn and rushed to Legion Field, arriving in time to slip into her cheerleading uniform for her team’s Class 5A football championship game against St. Paul’s. But stories like that, as interesting as they may be, should not be forced to occur.

This year, Briarwood fell short of the football title game, which gave defensive end Caleb Ward more time to prepare for his 50-yard freestyle final Saturday. For a year-round sport like swimming, athletes should not be forced to choose which state championship to compete for.

At least a week should separate the state final for the two events. Looking at the fall semester schedule, it’s hard to think of a better time to compete though, as finals approach this week. However, there has to be a better solution. An early January meet makes the most sense or possibly a week day.

Swimming is growing in our state and deserves its own day for the high school championship meet. This might encourage more teens to compete with their school instead of only a club team.