The Illinois Swimming and Colorado Swimming LSCs has joined a chorus of Local Swimming Committees that are sending letters directly to their state governors requesting expedited reopening of pools.
In mid-March, most competitive swimming activity in the U.S. shut down as a results of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. Now, every state in the country has begun to reopen businesses and loosen restrictions to some degree, though only about half of the states have announced plans to re-open aquatic facilities to varying degrees.
The letter that Colorado Swimming submitted to governor Jared Polis is very similar to the one that 5 Local Swimming Committees in California sent this week to their governor Gavin Newsom. That includes taking a non-combative approach to the phrasing, praising their respective governors for their work so far, and painting pool reopening in terms of how it will benefit the governor. Some of the language and structure, in fact, is identical.
Colorado Swimming has over 8,000 athlete members as part of 69 registered teams.
Colorado has seen an uptick in deaths by COVID-19 over the last 2 weeks, though the number of new reported cases has been in a gradual decline since a late-April peak. In total, the state has 23,161 confirmed infections of coronavirus and 1,310 COVID-19-attributed deaths.
Colorado’s stay-at-home order expired on April 26, and the state began to transition to a “safer at home” approach. That allowed retail businesses to open for curbside pickup and real estate showings could resume. Salons and other personal care services reopened on May 1.
One county in Colorado, Eagle County, has been given permission to enter the “blue phase” to further ease restrictions. Under that plan, chlorine and bromine pools would be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity as soon as May 25, though that plan still has to be approved by the state.
Jeff Arce, the general chair of Illinois Swimming, one of the largest of USA Swimming’s 59 Local Swimming Committees, wrote to Governor J.B. Pritzker asking him to ease restrictions about pools.
Illinois Swimming, which has over 20,000 registered members, used a different script, expressing “concern” about the plan for pool openings. The letter lays out the case for why pools are safe to reopen based on research that properly-chlorinated water kills the virus. Arce also asks the governor in the letter to adopt restrictions similar to golf, which has been allowed to resume with social distancing and protection from common points of contact.
Among Illinois Swimming’s proposed restrictions:
- 33% pool capacity (most swim teams are well below facility bather capacity during practice time anyway)
- Eliminate the use of slides, diving boards, locker rooms for showering and changing
- Eliminating the common use of flotation devices, kickboards, and other swim equipment
- Increase chlorine levels in pools to 2ppm, which Arce says will both increase the disinfection of the coronavirus and offset the limitations on the showering facilities, which is part of USA Swimming’s recommended guidelines.
- Requiring signage and deck markings enforcing 6 feet of social distancing
- Decreasing staff to the minimum to guarantee safety
- Wearing of appropriate PPE by staff and where otherwise appropriate.
Illinois has seen 105,642 confirmed infections of coronavirus with 4,736 COVID-19-attributed deaths. That gives Illinois the 3rd-most cases of any U.S. state. The rate of new cases and deaths have begun a small decline over the last week, though not for long enough to prove that it’s sustainable.