Lobbyist Meeting with White House Officials to Discuss Resuming Swimming

Jason Osborne, a lobbyist and parent at Washington, DC-based Machine Aquatics, is meeting with White House officials Tuesday to discuss reopening pools in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, team co-owner and ASCA COO Paris Jacobs told SwimSwam Monday.

Osborne is a former senior advisor to the Trump campaign and was the senior communications strategist for Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential run. He joined Washington lobbying firm Turnberry Solutions as a partner in 2017. Osborne’s daughter, Reagan, is committed to swim for LSU in the class of 2024.

“Like everyone else, especially in the Northeast, we’re really struggling to get pools open. And in my ASCA role, I have been – obviously – working with a lot of coaches and clubs and municipalities on guidelines,” Jacobs said. “In the meanwhile, not making many inroads in my own state, between Virginia and Maryland.”

“Every city, municipality and state that I have been able to be in touch with — they’re struggling with separating out professional aquatics versus kids getting in and playing Marco Polo, and how do we social distance, and how to we control what’s happening in a rec pool,” Jacobs said. “More and more, we’re finding they are just lumping us in with the recreational side.”

So Jacobs, her husband and Machine Aquatics co-owner and head coach Dan Jacobs, and Nation’s Capital Swim Club CEO Tom Ugast called up Osborne to discuss their options, hoping to find a way to “educate” the local government about what the professional side looks like. Osborne suggested that they instead pursue a route through the federal government, and said to send along a letter with the necessary information.

Osborne, who is working free of charge, says he views this as his way to give back to Machine Aquatics, which has helped his daughter earn a scholarship to swim at LSU.

Letter to President Trump, Dr. Birx signed by Olympic stars, coaches

Tuesday, Osborne will present that letter (addressed to President Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx, a former swim coach), signed by over 30 Olympians and “more Olympic staff and coaches of larger clubs out there than you can imagine,” Paris Jacobs said, noting that NCAA coaches could not be included because it could be perceived as a violation of NCAA rules. The letter signatories are being referred to as the “Aquatic Professionals Alliance.”

Among the signatories are Rowdy Gaines, Frank Busch, Gregg Troy, Jon Urbancheck, Nathan Adrian, Lenny Krayzelburg, Ryan Lochte, Amanda Beard, Lia Neal, Jason Lezak, Matt Grevers, Anthony Ervin, Natalie Coughlin, Kaitlin Sandeno and Jenny Thompson – Thompson is now an anesthesiologist working at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

In the letter, the group says that at least 300,000 individuals in the aquatics industry have been impacted by coronavirus-related closures.

The group is hoping to have a governor raise the issue during a national governors call this week with the COVID-19 task force on Tuesday, or in a future week. After that, Osborne is scheduled to go to the White House to meet with senior White House officials, possibly including President Trump, to discuss a meeting to assemble stakeholders to further discuss the issue.

The goal is for the White House to issue “supportive guidelines regarding professionalism in aquatics,” as has been done for other professional sports. The National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, among other pro leagues, are currently considering how to safely return to play.

Paris Jacobs says that the group was surprised to find out that many state governments didn’t know that guidelines by organizations like USA Swimming had been written, because they have been so inundated with information. She views this effort as part of an educational campaign that professionally-run swim clubs can effectively “mitigate risk,” though she repeatedly emphasized in comments that she understands that they cannot guarantee safety in a COVID-19 world.

If all goes according to the plan, the guidelines for pools will trickle down to the state and municipal level. The federal government has handed over all decision-making authority for reopening post-coronavirus to the states, with the notable exception of their effort to implore states to lift restrictions on religious gatherings.

Paris Jacobs says that in cursory conversations with state officials, a lack of lifeguards has been brought up as a roadblock, but says that she believes that this is a municipal issue that should be dealt with at the municipal level, not the state level. Paris Jacobs also says that her group is willing to help deal with some of those lifeguard staffing issues.

“The only way the swim industry is going to come out of this is sticking together and sharing services,” Paris Jacobs added, saying that all efforts have been part of coordinated movement with other clubs in the area.

Forty states nationwide have either begun to reopen pools with social distancing restrictions in place, or have a target date to do so. Click here to view SwimSwam’s state-by-state guide pools reopening. As to why the Jacobs-led effort is necessary at this point? Teams are bracing for a potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases – and by extension, pool closures – in the fall.

Names who have signed on to the letter:

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Swim mom 5527
1 year ago

Please, and thank you. I hope this will help. Oregon swimmers will never get back in the pool otherwise. Gyms can open now in our Phase 1 but pools are specifically excluded for ALL activities. Phase 2 won’t start for two to three more weeks—and isn’t even written yet—so it’s unclear if any pool activity will even happen then. It seems no one can get through to the governor’s office about this. Mind you, casinos are open….but well organized, healthy, small consistent groups can’t go back to a highly sterilized environment? Ok! I see what lobbies are more effective (and tax-revenue generating). Thanks Oregon for keeping us so safe. Since Oregon has some of the fewest active cases in the… Read more »

cynthia curran
Reply to  Swim mom 5527
1 year ago

it depends upon the county as well as the state. Tucson still doesn’t have pools open while locations in Phoenix do.

Yes!
Reply to  cynthia curran
1 year ago

Tucson does have some pools opening on June 1.

run-dmc
Reply to  Swim mom 5527
1 year ago

You need to start selling cocktails at the pool. Then you will be allowed to open.

Dave
1 year ago

This is where LSC and pool professionals really need to help out at the local level as well. Understand that 99.9% of the population when they hear “swimming pool” and “summer” together they envision scenes from Caddyshack or Sandlot. Communicate with people that can communicate with people. LSC’s must have at least ONE member within their numbers that have political ties that can explain what we as organized youth sports/swimming are looking for

gator
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

agree – this is such a local issue, town by town. the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater already, and we have to save it before it all goes down the drain. vast majority of clubs should be back in the water already based on local COVID risk.

klo
Reply to  gator
1 year ago

maybe a drowning baby isnt the best analogy…

ACC
1 year ago

Well the White House isn’t the body that has the authority to open or close pools, so I don’t see how this will accomplish anything.

Also, fun fact: Jason Osborne has lobbied for Carol Baskin of Tiger King fame.

Less backstroke
Reply to  ACC
1 year ago

Maybe swimming will get a Trump tweet and all the credibility and influence that comes with that.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Less backstroke
1 year ago

Comes with a lot of views/likes so can’t hurt.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  ACC
1 year ago

Data keeps trending in the right direction for this. According to this story the CDC estimating the fatality rate to be around .26%, about double that of a seasonal flu.
https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/coronavirus/cdc-says-coronavirus-infection-fatality-rate-could-be-low-026-nearly

PsychoDad
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

Lol, you quote Just the News as a reliable source? All estimates, from scientists, put coronavirus IMR at around 0.4%. Flu IMR is about 0.05%, so almost 10 times higher. in 2017, 6,500 people died of flu:
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/flu.htm
2018 was a deadly flu season and 17,000 people died. It is over 100,000 dead from coronavirus rigth now, and not even close to over.
Use facts not propaganda if you want to be taken seriously.

Anonymous
Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

Flu numbers are higher than what you say.

PsychoDad
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2766121

Between 2013-2014 and 2018-2019, the reported yearly estimated influenza deaths ranged from 23 000 to 61 000.3 Over that same time period, however, the number of counted influenza deaths was between 3448 and 15 620 yearly.4 On average, the CDC estimates of deaths attributed to influenza were nearly 6 times greater than its reported counted numbers.

Corn Pop
Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

Mar 9 .Congressional hearing the CDC guy said not all states forward their influenza deaths. As to whether any of those could be Covid 19 , he said t h a t Post Mortems had since identified some as such . Congress ppl only get a few minutes to question &everyone seemed stunned . I did not hear much about this tho I thought at the time it should be huge .

So we are looking at early Feb even Jan when the epidemic was already silently ongoing .in the USA. Certainly by March 2 rich skiing types were returning to Australia from Colorado cv19 positive.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

I referenced an article that used the CDC as its source. The main point of the story was that original estimates were much higher and they keep trending down. As far as propaganda the CDC generally estimates between 12,000 to 61,000 deaths per year by the flu. The article mentions as high as 60K so it’s inline with this: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/images/about/burden/printable-tables2-17-18.pptx

PsychoDad
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

“estimates ” is the key word there. CDC ESTIMATES. When they estimated 61,000 in 2018, it was 17,000. When they estimated 30,000 in 2017, it was 6500. You can find that in Internet too – 2 scientists researched. I posted link on SwimSwam few days ago – lazy to look for it now. But, check with New York if my 0.4 or your 0.26 is realistic. When hospitals are overwhelmed and sick people die in halls waiting for bed, that number is tenfold.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2766121

PsychoDad
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

NEW: Jump in #coronavirus deaths in New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania over the past 24 hours (today report):

New Jersey: 148 deaths (up from 54)
Florida: 60 deaths (up from 7)
Pennsylvania: 113 deaths (up from 13)

Any idea what will happen in the Fall?

ACC
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

That estimate is considered overly optimistic by most scientists. And even then, their “best guess” says half a million people would die with reopening. This is not a seasonal flu.

‘”These [CDC] numbers are so far outside of the scientific consensus that this strikes me as a devious and cynical effort to manipulate not only federal modeling but the broader scientific discourse,” Bergstrom wrote on Twitter.’

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/22/860981956/scientists-say-new-lower-cdc-estimates-for-severity-of-covid-19-are-optimistic

PARTICIPANT RIBBON
Reply to  ACC
1 year ago

The estimates can always be viewed as optimistic or skewed similar to the Imperial College or London estimating the fatality rate would be around 1% or the models that predicted 2.2 million deaths in the US alone.

Also Anonymous
1 year ago

People need to push this at a local level. It needs to be made clear that there are many different levels of swimming from “pool party” to “beginner summer league” to various levels of “competitive athlete”. It’s time to open for competitive athlete in a disciplined environment. It isn’t time to open for free for all swimming.

swimmom
Reply to  Also Anonymous
1 year ago

In our city we are having a problem with just the opposite happening. Pools are open and summer rec teams are being forced to cancel the season because host pools don’t want to upset members by taking up space for swim team practices. A good portion of our competitive swim kids are based at our local university which is closed through the summer so they are having to utilize the local pools as well. The pools would much rather cater to the people parking in a lounge chair for hours than allow swim teams to host practice for 2-4 hours 4 days a week.

Taa
Reply to  swimmom
1 year ago

This reminds me of what happened when they closed some beaches and left others open. My health club pool is one of the few open in the area and its getting lots of pressure from outside users which is the opposite of what should be happening if you’re fighting a global pandemic.

Anonymous
Reply to  Also Anonymous
1 year ago

Your opinion that it isn’t time to open up for free for all swimming is rejected by me. Everything should be open if the owner wants to open it.

Woke Stasi
1 year ago

Impressive list of swimming luminaries pushing this initiative. My hat is off to them! There are many, many age-groupers who would love to be in the water now — and perhaps this will help convince reluctant municipalities around the country to open their aquatic facilities.

Perhaps I overlooked them, but are the names of the current Olympic swimming head coaches on the list as well?

Admin
Reply to  Woke Stasi
1 year ago

As alluded to in the article, there’s been some ambiguity and uncertainty about whether college coaches can sign on to this without violating NCAA rules.

Both of the Tokyo Olympic Games head coaches are also college coaches.

Swimmom
1 year ago

The federal government won’t help states get testing, PPE, or reliable information, but they’ll get pools open after they told states their in charge is….

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Swimmom
1 year ago

It’s a can’t win situation. If the Federal Gov’t tries to mandate something then the states complain it should be their decision and when the Federal Gov’t puts the decisions in the hands of the states you get this type of reaction. I would rather let the state and cities decide.

Swim&PoloDad
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

Agree with you. That said, some local decision-makers might not make the best decisions. FWIW, we’re still pretty much locked down in our county, and sadly deaths by suicide are out pacing deaths from Covid according to a report from the local ABC affiliate. . . .

klo
Reply to  Swim&PoloDad
1 year ago

please link that story. i find that incredible.

UCswim
Reply to  Swimmom
1 year ago

Agree with this. I miss my pool and it really sucks to not have access, but the federal government should be focused on testing and making sure we have the right tools to fight the virus.

Swammer
1 year ago

I would think the White House would have more pressing issues to deal with, but this could be a good step forward for pools and swimming.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Swammer
1 year ago

Yep. The Scarborough “murder” mystery.

Justin Thompson
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Probably not as much there as the Vince Foster mystery.

SCCOACH
1 year ago

I just got word from Trump that he will only take action if Dean Farris signs the letter

USAUSAUSA
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 year ago

I assume that’s just because he wants dean the dream’s autograph.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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