BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of young swimmers from four states are in Biloxi, trying to achieve their personal best. The city of Biloxi and the Biloxi Elite Swim Team are hosting a huge swim meet this weekend. The preliminary races started Friday. The competition is making a big splash, especially among first-time competitors.
They are some of the fastest, young swimmers from across the southeast region, and they are racing against the clock at the Biloxi Natatorium.
"It's been intense for me. I'm 13. A lot of my teammates are here with me and they're really, really fast," said George Ruiz of College Station, TX.
"It's my third time. I love this meet. It's really big and there's a variety of teams, so there's always somebody to push you," said Madelyn Carson of Pineville, LA.
A total of 524-swimmers, most of them between the ages of six and 19, are competing in the sixth annual "Splashin' the Coast" Swim Meet. With growing participation this year, no wonder it's being called one of the largest events ever held at the Biloxi Natatorium.
"It's really rewarding to know we can put on a meet of this caliber. This is one of the biggest ones that we host, actually, in our state," said Swim Meet Director Jamie Lee.
The event has grown so large, organizers said they had to turn down six teams this year.
"The majority of our teams have traveled in from a greater time of three hours away. We're pulling them in from Texas, Tennessee, so that says a lot about us here in South Mississippi. We're very fortunate that we have a facility that we can host that many here," Lee added.
Many of the first time competitors seem impressed with the Olympic-sized pool.
"It's been really fun. I like this pool. It's a new way to warm down and stuff, so it's really nice," said Anjali Mahajan of Jackson, TN.
"It's really quite nice, beautiful pool, great swimmers. It's just awesome," said George.
That means a lot to the home team, the Biloxi Elite, which has about 80-swimmers in the competition.
"I'm really proud, because we're hosting this meet and it feels nice and people come to us instead of us going to them. We're sort of like a swimmer family, and it's really nice," said Cassidy Beeding, a Biloxi Elite team member.
The competition continues Saturday and Sunday. The awards ceremony will be held Sunday night.