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.


  • 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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3 years ago

Open the pools in California now!

3 years ago

Open our public pools in California now!

OC coach
3 years ago

At least 4 teams in orange county are now open. Two of those teams are only open for their “elite” group and the other two teams have opened for the entire team (with guidelines of course).

OC swimmer
Reply to  OC coach
3 years ago

Curious- Who are the other two teams? I know of Nova and Mission Viejo. Are the pools private or public/school owned?

Reply to  OC swimmer
3 years ago

FAST swim team out of Fullerton is the other one. The city allowed them to use their pool for swim practices for the club and masters team. Don’t know which is the 4th team open.

College Club Swimmer
3 years ago

Here on the central coast, we’ve hit all of the governor’s targets, but the state is dragging it’s heels and not responding to our requests to more to stage two. Pretty disheartening for everyone to work together to slow the spread of the virus and still not be able to partially reopen. At least we still have our beaches.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

I don’t know all the details but there are a lot of unpopulated counties with not a lot of covid cases that are being able to move ahead of the larger counties with growing numbers

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

The problem as I see it in LA and Orange counties is that they cannot move to reopen pools without guidance from the State, and the State seems to lump all sports (except golf and tennis) into the same phase 3 bucket (all CA counties are not at some stage of phase 2). There is no scientific reason why lap swimming (a solo, socially distanced activity in an environment that kills the virus) should not be in the same bucket as golf and tennis. As you know, guidelines for minimizing risk at outdoor pools abound. Somehow the message is not getting through to the Governor or his Coronavirus task force.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

San Luis Obispo county, which I’m assuming is the Central Coast being referenced here, submitted an attestation over a week ago but did not meet the requirement of cases per day over the past 14 days. That has been changed as of this week, and now SLO meets the new requirement. They have submitted a new attestation.

College Club Swimmer
Reply to  Retiredguy
3 years ago

Unfortunately the pool that I swim at in SLO, the university pool, will be shut through the fall as they’ve converted the whole gym to a hospital overflow. It hasn’t seen any patients thankfully, but it’s sounding like that pool and gym will be closed far into the future.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Florida did this in the initial openings. Phase 1 was for everyone except the 3 southeastern counties. Those then opened up 2 weeks later.

3 years ago

I think this letter is going to fall on deaf ears, and California swimmers will continue to be disadvantaged vis-a-vis swimmers in other states, without a concerted lobbying effort from USA Swimming, USOC, and/or political donors with some sway over Gov. Newsom. The golfers and tennis players in California figured this out weeks ago. If you know someone who can assert influence, please deploy them. California swimmers and swim teams thank you!

3 years ago

The California based swimmers will struggle to get back into shape especially compared to Texas, Florida etc

SoCal Swim Dad
3 years ago

I’m still unclear how Mission is permitted to practice. Bold move by that mayor, but NOVA has a small group practicing as well. That being said, a statewide order allowing lap swimming is the best possible scenario. If that doesn’t happen and some pools open (like city owned facilities) and others remain closed (school pools), swimmers from clubs with no pool, will simply go to the ones with open pools.

Reply to  SoCal Swim Dad
3 years ago

Their mayor allowed it. There is no true law against pools being open, only executive order. Governor knows he can’t enforce it. Lockdown only exists if we consent.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  SoCal Swim Dad
3 years ago

The mayor is a former Olympic gold medalist in swimming.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

And a wise mayor at that. Seems like he’s taking care of the kids in the community. Maybe he’s done some research and understands mr schuberts plan to minimize risk.

3 years ago

Most proposed rules seem to include NOT allowing showers before or after swimming. Ok, there is probably a good reason, such as avoid sharing virus risk in shower stalls. But the rules I have seen state that the swimmers must shower ‘at home’ before coming to the pool. Yeah, right! I’m already bothered by the number of people allowed to violate the “shower before swimming” rule. And what if swimmers want to do some dry land training before, or during, practice. Somehow, somewhere, I’d love to find a pool where everyone showers right before swimming. (Sure, somebody will undoubtedly remind me of all the other fluids getting into the pool even with showering. And you can point out all the… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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