The AHSAA State Swimming & Diving Championships will unveil its new two-division championship format with sectionals this weekend as swimmers take part in three sectional meets across the state.
Now in its 55th year, the Swimming & Diving Championships have consisted of one division with all schools competing in one state meet since its inception in 1960.
This Friday and Saturday, however, three sectional meets – at Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile – are set to qualify swimmers in two divisions (Class 1A-5A and Class 6A-7A) for the state meet Dec. 12-13 at Auburn University.
“This is a big step for high school swimming,” AHSAA Assistant Director Marvin Chou said. “The AHSAA is excited to host the first-ever North, Central and South Sectionals. We are hoping these new meets will grow the sport.”
Bishop State Community College will host the South Sectional, Birmingham CrossPlex the Central Sectional and the Huntsville Natatorium the North Sectional. Swimming prelims will begin at 5 p.m. Friday with diving competition set for 10 a.m. Saturday and swimming finals scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
Chou, the assistant director overseeing the swimming championships, said the increased opportunity for swimmers to compete has already made a dramatic impact.
“We have already seen 20 new schools declare swimming this year,” he said. “ We can now consider our state swim and dive meet a true championship meet. The AHSAA would like to thank Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile for their willingness to host these meets. We are excited for the sport and we hope to see it grow even more as our programs continue to strive for excellence.”