Tupelo's brand-new aquatic center is creating quite a splash among swimmers while making a positive impact on the local economy.
“Everyone who visits our aquatic center is just in awe," says Amy Kennedy, director of the Tupelo Aquatic Center, adding that the reaction applies to out-of-town guests and residents alike. "The community has been very supportive of our programs and the facility."
The grand opening of the Tupelo Aquatic Center was held in December 2013, and programming began in January 2014. The facility’s main attraction is a heated 12,625-square-foot competition/recreation pool with diving boards, a climbing wall, an obstacle course, lap swimming and several guided aquatics programs.
Shockwave Aquatics Practices & Meets
Tupelo's competitive swimming program, Shockwave Aquatics, holds practices and swim meets at the Tupelo Aquatic Center.
“You would have to drive three hours or more to find an aquatic facility of this quality. It’s top-notch,” says Lucas Smith, Shockwave Aquatics head coach. “It’s been so great to be able to practice consistently in the new facility without worrying about the weather or maintenance complications. The facility also has nice changing rooms and restrooms, places to sit and conduct business, and plenty of room for large groups.”
In its short history, the Tupelo Aquatics Center has hosted several large swim meets that drew swim teams from all over Mississippi. In fact, before the new facility even opened, the City of Tupelo was able to win bids for three 2014 championship meets, something that reflects the quality of the facility and Tupelo residents' hospitality, Kennedy says.
By the end of July 2014, the Tupelo Aquatic Center hosts six swim meets and will host the 2015 Southern Zone Age Group Championships.
These types of events already have made a positive impact on the local economy.
“We held our first major meet February 27 through March 2 , and that championship meet brought 368 swimmers and their families to our facility and to Tupelo for a three-night stay,” Kennedy says. “People love coming to Tupelo because of our hotels, restaurants and shopping venues. Now they love coming to Tupelo because of our aquatic facility as well.”
Education & Recreation at the Tupelo Aquatic Center
In addition to the Competition/Recreation Pool, the center has a nearly 3,000-square-foot Elvis Presley Teaching Pool, which was sponsored by the Elvis Presley Fan Club and allows the center to offer more programming simultaneously.
Swim lessons are offered for all ages from babies to adults, and the highly successful Kids Power Hour helps children take exercise to the water.
Kennedy says the two most popular adult fitness programs are the Golden Waves and Aqua Zumba classes. While the Golden Waves participants work out in the warm water pool to improve strength, flexibility, range of motion and balance, Aqua Zumba attendees burn calories in a fun, water workout that incorporates kickboxing and aqua explosion moves.
The center also has inflatable games that can be anchored into the pool, which are especially popular with children, Kennedy says, adding that kayaking and paddleboarding also have been draws.
The aquatic center's programming fits nicely into the ever growing wellness movement here. The National League of Cities recognized Tupelo in 2014 for the city's healthy living initiatives.
“Recreation is a prescription for better health,” Kennedy says. “And water is the perfect medicine.”