BOISE - After 30 years of pushing, Idaho is now the 49th state to finally recognize high school swimming as a sanctioned sport.
Up until this fall, it has only been a club activity.
And Friday and Saturday, the state's first official season is wrapping up at the state meet.
"Next year starting in the fall of 2018, we will sanction the state tournament through our office," said Mike Federico, the assistant director at Idaho High School Activities Association.
It will be the first time in Idaho's history.
And up until Friday's state competition, all other meets in the 2017 season were sanctioned, another first for Idaho.
"When we looked at it, sanctioning the tournament, the swimmers now are apart of the school, they have the same guidelines, award situation, same trophies, banners, everything will be consistent with basketball, football, cheer, all those kinds of things," said Federico.
"I'm happy because we are finally getting the recognition that we so deserve, these athletes spend more time exercising and building their bodies than any other sport," said Melonie Swenson, a parent of a Jerome High School swimmer.
Since sanctioning high school swimming just this year, the sport has grown.
"Well I think the evidence is in the numbers, we have more coaches, more kids, more schools that are involved in swimming," said Federico.
"A lot of kids are realizing that maybe they can't make it on the football team but they can do swimming instead, and a lot of kids swim in the summer and they don't realize they can compete competitively," added Swenson.
Athletes from 58 schools across Idaho are competing at the state level Friday and Saturday.
Officials from Idaho's High School Activities Association wanted to hold off on sanctioning this meet and instead use it as an opportunity to learn and observe to make sure next year's state sanctioned meet is seemless.
"Being here at this meet is really important in the fact that we will learn a lot and then next year it will be a full fledged sport just like most of our other sports," said Federico.
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