Big Time Splash: More than 700 swimmers compete in Seymour event


Around the third weekend in July, the streets of Seymour get a little busier.

All of the hotels fill, and the restaurants see an influx in business from out-of-towners.

Each summer, for the past 27 years, swimmers from across the southern region of the state — and beyond — flood to Shields Park Pool.

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This past weekend, 719 swimmers made the pilgrimage to Seymour for the Seymour Splash (formerly known as the Pepsi Plunge).

The number or participants set a new record for attendance, besting the previous mark of 717 set in 2015.

Seymour Splash saw a major jump from last year’s competition, which had nearly 600 swimmers.

In this year’s three-day USA Swimming event, 28 teams competed in the pool.

Age groups ranged from 8 years old and under to 15 and older.

Seymour coach Dave Boggs said that about 51 kids represented the local program this year.

Boggs, the head coach at Seymour High School, puts on the event every year with his wife, Chris, in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department.

The Seymour Splash is the last chance for swimmers to qualify for the next round of competition.

“This is the last chance to get cuts,” Boggs said. “When we rebuilt the pool in 1991, I asked the coaches what they wanted. Most wanted a late-season preliminary as the final meet. It’s the last meet for state and national-level cuts.”

Also this weekend, former Seymour swimmer Kameron Chastain, who is currently a University of Louisville assistant coach, brought some members of the Cardinals’ team to get a meet in, Boggs said.

Boggs said that some members of the Cardinals’ team needed to get cuts in and had the option of going to Seymour or to a meet in Atlanta to get their times.

Each year, money comes into local businesses, with many visitors spending one to two nights in town.

Boggs said that Jim Plump, the executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corporation, estimated the meet brings in $100,000 to Seymour.

“We try to refine the meet every year,” Boggs said. “We just want to try to make our jobs easier if at all possible. It’s all of the details. The big things and little things. A lot of times it’s the little things that make us stand out from the rest.”

Daniel Hartman, an incoming junior at Seymour High School, has worked the meet as a lifeguard the past two years but has attended it for the past 10 years.

“As a swimmer, I thought it was always the best meet,” Hartman said. “It’s so big, with so many people here. Now that I’m getting older, I see that there are a lot of college coaches here too.

“It’s fun watching because I can see everything from a different perspective. I was in a lot of the kids’ shoes not that long ago. I know what it’s like, and it’s cool to see that.”

For 12-year-olds Katya Cox and Paul Montgomery, the Seymour Splash is their favorite meet of the summer.

“It’s at home and we’re used to this pool,” Cox said. “Sometimes it helps you go faster that you’re at home.”

Both athletes swam in multiple events over the weekend.

“I like to swim and come to the meets,” Montgomery said. “I get to hang out with my friends. There are a lot of teams here that you don’t see; it’s good to have different competition.”

This year, the meet went off without a hitch.

“The weather was fantastic, and all of the equipment was working,” Boggs said. “The officials kept everything moving. Everything went great. The parks and rec and mayors’ office are wonderful in supporting us for this. I can’t say how much that goes behind all of this.”

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