The Claremont Club in Claremont, California has permanently closed after 47 years in business. The club blamed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for the closure.
The club is home to a 50-meter that hosts the Claremont Club swim team. That includes a year-round USA Swimming club, Masters team, pre-competitive swim team, summer swim school, and swim lessons programs.
The team has about 150 members and in its history has put 2 swimmers on the USA Swimming National Junior Team and qualified 4 swimmers for the US Olympic Trials. Among the most recognizable names in the club’s history are UCLA school record-breaker and CSCAA All-American Noelle Tarazona, former Cal Bear Michael Haney, and former Harvard swimmer and Ivy League champion Sonia Wang.
John Ries is the head coach of the Claremont Club Swim Team, a position he has held since 1990. The swim team, which is owned by the club, has been training at a rec center in San Dimas, California on a temporary basis during the quarantine.. They hope to continue training there while working on a path forward. According to aquatics director and assistant coach Jennifer Altree, there are ongoing conversations about how to reorganize the club and proceed, possibly continuing to train out of San Dimas, but that those conversations are still in very early stages.
“I told the team, the people are more important than the place,” Altree said, alluding to the drive to keep the team together in the future.
The pool is not the first to permanently close due to financial woes exacerbated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Pools and swim teams across the country have been unable to stay open with reduced revenues. YMCA organizations in Florida and Ohio have closed huge competitive swimming programs, and a YMCA that housed a swim team in suburban Chicago has also closed. The county so far has recorded almost 198,000 total positive cases and 4,825 deaths attributed to COVID-19. That death toll is almost as many as the rest of the state combined.
There’s some uncertainty about what the current status is of pools in California, and different counties are interpreting the restrictions in different ways, but most of the state is still without access to practice time. Claremont is located in Los Angeles County, which has been one of the hardest-hit places on earth by the coronavirus pandemic.
Read the full letter sent to membership, and published online, below:
Dear Club Members:
It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that The Claremont Club will be closing operations permanently as of August 1, 2020. This was not an easy decision for the owners of the Club to make. Several times over the past years they have been approached with offers to sell and they have always declined. Their true desire has been to continue what Stan Clark started in 1973 and to pass it on to their children. However, the financial cost incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of almost 1,200 memberships during our closures simply leaves us with no alternative.
Delivering this message is so very difficult as I have come to know many of you personally over the past 23 years. I have been able to see your children grow up; the many friendships forged; witnessed the powerful effect that exercise and socialization have had on your overall quality of life and the hope, acceptance, and possibilities that our Club has had on people struggling with chronic injuries and chronic illnesses. We have been able to help so many people and have made such a positive difference in their lives.
We have been blessed to have had the most dedicated and talented employees and managers in the fitness industry. Because of their efforts, the Club has been recognized all over the world for being a leader in health club inclusivity and Exercise is Medicine. The programs that we have developed for adults and children with cancer, our spinal cord/paralysis, diabetes, and cycling for Parkinson’s are highly regarded, not only in the fitness industry but also in the medical and health care communities.
It is important for you to know how grateful all of us are to you, our valued members who have supported us over so many years. We understand that for many of you the Club has become your second home and that the closure will be as devastating to you as it is to us.
As pledged, we intend to reimburse all of you whose dues we drafted in April as-well-as any money accepted for summer camps not held; pre-paid personal training, Pilates or private swim lessons as-soon-as-possible, but no later than when the property is sold. Members will receive money due to them prior to any distributions being paid to the owners.
Please know that I will continue to work with our managers and staff as they pursue future employment opportunities. And I will also be available by email or phone to speak with any of you about concerns or questions you may have.
I want to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during this most difficult time.
Yours in Good Health,