5 California Local Swimming Committees Ask Governor Newsom to Reopen Pools

The general chairs of 5 USA Swimming Local Swimming Committees (LSCs) have sent a joint letter to California governor Gavin Newsom asking him to authorize the reopening of lap swimming and supervised swimming practices in private, public, and school facilities across the state.

“We are writing you on behalf of more than 40,000 athletes and 440 small business owners with 3400 employees in California that are registered members of USA Swimming,” the letter reads. “We represent a monthly $10 million loss on small business wages, and the facilities across our state are losing $2.5 million monthly in revenue from our not being able to swim.”

Among the commitments they made as part of the request includes returning with a maximum pool density of 25-30% of traditional levels and not sharing equipment between swimmers during a practice. The LSCs also committed their coaches to enforce physical distancing among athletes and to limit the number of coaches on deck to help maintain physical distances, along with control entrance/exit and bathroom use.

The LSC chairs laid out their claims regarding the ability to safely return to swimming. Among their arguments:

  • Both the CDC and NIH are comfortable that the disease cannot be spread in properly maintained chlorinated water.
  • Scientific studies have shown that the virus will not live outside for more than a few minutes at the temperatures that the outdoor California pools experience; thus further minimizing the risk to the athletes and coaches.
  • Swimming is inherently a “solo” sport and easily lends itself to physical distancing.

“We greatly appreciate your thoughtful leadership through this coronavirus pandemic,” the letter says. “You have saved so many lives and are focused on making good business decisions using science and data. USA Swimming and the impacted athletes, business owners or teams, and employees truly believe that we can safely return to the pool now without jeopardizing the “new” normal (life) that all Californians want and deserve.”

The request to specifically allow the opening of school pools is key here, as the state’s public schools are closed until the new academic year and many pools are located at schools. The fate of those pools might be more dependent on money than willpower, given that a new budget plan released by Newsom earlier this month has left many districts scrambling to find funding. The reopening of school pools could be dependent on their ability to break even financially based on club rental fees alone, as districts that have been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic won’t be keen to subsidize their operations.

Earlier this week, California advanced its reopening procedure, including preparing to move the whole state into Stage 3 of Newsom’s four-stage recovery plan. Once stage 3 comes, which Newsom says will be “weeks not months,” some sports leagues may be able to return to action with “modifications and very prescriptive conditions.”

Stage 2, which 25 California counties have moved into, allows fewer restrictions on outdoor activities, including allowing golf and tennis, but does not allow pool swimming.

In California, counties advance through the stages of the reopening plan based on a set of criteria that includes a daily percent change of new cases of less than 5%, or no more than 20 total hospitalizations over the last 14 days, and less than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days.

California, which was one of the first states to enact strict social distancing guidelines, has recorded almost 84,000 positive tests for coronavirus resulting in 3,425 deaths. California, while having the largest population of any state in the U.S., has only the 5th-most positive tests for coronavirus infection and just the 8th-most deaths.

While every state in the U.S. has eased coronavirus restrictions to some degree, many of those plans do not yet include pools. So far, at least 17 U.S. states have announced a plan for some easing of restrictions on pools.

At least 1 team in California, the Mission Viejo Nadadores, has returned to training, albeit apparently outside of the bounds of the statewide restrictions.

Led by a $1 million pledged distribution by the Pacific Swimming LSC, the 5 represented LSCs that signed this letter have combined to commit over $2.2 million in funding to their member clubs.

UPDATED LIST OF POOL REOPENINGS

  • Alabama – 50% capacity (May 11)
  • Alaska – 50% capacity
  • Arizona – 50% capacity (May 15)
  • Arkansas – 50% capacity (May 22)
  • Delaware – Community Pools at 20% capacity, no swim lessons or team practices (May 22)
  • Florida – some localities have allowed pools to begin to reopen under a patchwork of restrictions
  • Indiana – Adhering to Social Distancing Guidelines (May 24)
  • Georgia – 10 or fewer people, or 6 feet of space per person (May 14)
  • Kentucky – Pools designated for training or exercise can reopen (June 1)
  • Louisiana– Lap Swimming can resume at 25% capacity
  • Massachussetts – Outdoor pools Can Reopen in Phase 2 (as early as June 8), Indoor pools can reopen in Phase 3 (as early as late June)
  • Mississippi – six feet apart
  • North Carolina – “contemplating allowing pools in phase 2” (May 22)
  • Ohio – CDC Guidelines (May 26)
  • South Carolina – Smaller of 20%/5 people per 1000 square feet (May 18)
  • Texas – 25% capacity
  • Virginia – Outdoor lap Swimming only, 1-per-lane (May 15)
  • Wyoming – 1 person per lane

 

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Swim&PoloDad
4 months ago

Fantastic!!

Add to that the 10,000 recreational team swimmers in our county alone, with their fees, purchases etc., it’s a huge economic impact. Healthwise, the kids need to get out and exercise, too. Swimming can be done safely.

FWIW, several rec teams in the area have rebranded themselves as swim camps for the summer. As odd as it sounds, the county is allowing them to open if they adhere to the “camp” guidelines outlined in the health orders.

Barry F
Reply to  Swim&PoloDad
4 months ago

I have tried to email Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles to say please at least allow pools to open for lap swimming only that have swim lanes. No more than one person per lane. Lane must be minimum 6 feet apart but most are 8.2 feet as this is competition separation. All pool water will be tested every 4 hours and maintain chemistry to state set standards. No lessons, no wadding and no socializing. No sitting around pools to warm up, no lounging. Basically you sign up for lap time…maximum 1 hour intervals. My argument that someone needs to make is the state needs to try this first before opening pools up for socializing. Also no person who has Covid… Read more »

SCCOACH
4 months ago

If the governor does order all pools to reopen is this just public pools? I’d imagine all schools would need to open in order for a school pool to open, so a lot of teams are still screwed. Is this the case or am I wrong?

Swimming4silver
Reply to  SCCOACH
4 months ago

i imagine yes, that’s too each college campus to decide. after the county or state let them open.

Wuhan Jimmy
4 months ago

STORY IDEA: Coleman should do a video interview with the current Olympic swimming coaches for their ideas on this topic of re-opening pools (done safely, of course) — especially outdoor pools.

OC coach
Reply to  Wuhan Jimmy
4 months ago

Why just Olympic coaches? Are non-olympic coaches incompetent?

Guerra
Reply to  Wuhan Jimmy
4 months ago

Or how about just doing it the way it would have been done if Covid 19 didn’t exist??? Because it’s not a factor for swimmers or other highly conditioned athletes. This whole ordeal was ridiculous and unnecessary. People have the choice of whether they go to practice or not, just going to a restaurant, a football game, skydiving, etc.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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