As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, so to has USA Swimming’s approach to the 2020-2021 Pro Swim Series, the organization’s highlight national competition tour.
The latest change, announced Friday, reduces January’s Pro Swim Series event from a 3-location meet to a 2-location meet, with San Antonio, Texas and Richmond, Virginia remaining, while there will no longer be a site in Irvine, California. The meets will be held from January 14-17, 2021.
“Following the December 29, 2020, extension of the Regional Stay-at-Home Order for the Southern California Region, USA Swimming, in consultation with the city of Irvine and host club Novaquatics, has made the decision to cancel the Irvine location for the upcoming TYR Pro Swim Series event from January 14-17, 2021,” according to a press release.
USA Swimming announced its new plan for the early 2021 Pro Swim Series stops in December, saying that in an attempt to reduce the number of athletes at any specific location, they would spread the meet across three locations. San Antonio was set to be the “primary site” featuring an “invite-only field comprised of the top ranked U.S. swimmers,” with locations in Richmond and Irvine featuring up to 100 male and 100 female athletes each.
Under the new plan, San Antonio will remain the primary site, with Richmond featuring “approximately 100 female and male athletes, respectively.”
The meets will air live on NBCSN, the Olympic Channel, and be live-streamed on usaswimming.org. No specific entry lists of participating swimmers have been released yet.
California has become one of the nation’s biggest hotspots for the coronavirus pandemic, with Orange County, where Irvine is located, averaging 3,642 new daily cases over the last week (114-per-100,000 population). At 93.9-per-100,000 cases, California has the highest current rate of new daily positive cases of coronavirus in the country over the last week. New York Time data reports 21,449 patients infected with coronavirus in California hospitals as of Thursday.
California also has instituted some of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the country, making hosting a meet with 200 athletes challenging and uncertain.
The trend in California has begun to turn. After the 7-day rolling average peaked on December 22 at almost 45,000 new daily cases, the 7-day average has fallen to just over 37,000 cases. Thursday saw 32,000 new cases.