What the Guidelines for Nationwide Reopening Mean for Swimming

Thursday, Donald Trump rolled out a three-phase procedure titled Opening Up America Again that will gradually ease the rules of social distancing in the United States allowing for normal life to resume.

In order for swimming to return to normal, gyms, pools, and spas will need to reopen and people will need to be allowed to meet in groups of 50 or more. While some training groups could work with the 10-person group limit currently in place–assuming they also have a facility–that small of a number would not be feasible for most swim teams, especially in regards to age group practices.

Before states can begin the three-phase reopening plan they must meet the following criteria:

Symptoms: [A] downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period AND [a] downward trajectory of covid-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.

Cases: [A] downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period OR [a] downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).

Hospitals: Treat all patients without crisis care AND [a] robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.

Assuming states can meet these criteria, phase one will make only minor changes to the current social distancing practices with the exception that large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) will be allowed to “operate under strict physical distancing protocols,” and gyms will be allowed to open “if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.” Schools and “organized youth activities” must remain closed during phase one, which could mean that swim practices will not be allowed to resume even though gyms are allowed to reopen.

Phase two will allow for schools and “organized youth activities” to reopen, which could be the green light for some swim teams, though some facilities may remain closed if operating costs outweigh rental revenue from swim teams. Furthermore, large venues will be allowed to operate under “moderate physical distancing protocols,” an easing of phase one’s “strict physical distancing” guidelines.

Phase three will ease restrictions even further by allowing large venues to operate under “limited physical distancing protocols.” Individuals will also be allowed to visit hospitals and senior living facilities once again, a concession not given during either phase one or phase two.

The precise timeline of these measures remains fluid as states must first meet the three criteria including a downward trajectory of reported illnesses over a 14-day period, a downward trajectory of positive tests, as well as an increased ability to treat all patients and test all who require testing.

Even as gyms reopen, many pools owned by schools and universities might remain closed, which could hinder the full-scale “reopening” of the summer swim season. Community-owned facilities and seasonal pools could open even as others remain shut down, potentially opening up practice opportunities for teams in the area, though some cities, such as Manhattan, Kansas, have decided to close all public swimming pools and cancel all summer programs for 2020. In addition to the 2020 swimming pool season, Manhattan (KS) has also canceled all remaining 2020 youth and adult sports leagues and recreation sponsored camps. Covington, Kentucky, will not be opening its public swimming pools for the summer of 2020.

USA Swimming stated Friday that it won’t sanction meets through at least May 31st. Swim teams began suspending practices in mid-March, meanwhile high school spring sports and many end-of-season competitions were cancelled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A study by Harvard University warned that some degree of social distancing might be necessary until 2022. A vaccine for COVID-19 has not yet been verified but could be ready for mass production as soon as autumn, though that is still months away at the earliest.

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Not sure how to hold a meet while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Think about how crowded pool decks usually are in addition to warm-ups, bleachers, and stands. I envision many teams holding time trials within training groups until a vaccine becomes widely available.


Each club hosts their own meet, per age group. Only coaches, swimmers, 4 officials and timers. Make them small but have many of them.


I believe intersquad meets are not sanction-able according to the Rule Book. There is also the issue of profitability since pool rental, surcharges/sanction fees, cost of officials (if in those LSCs), etc would be pretty high compared to the limit entry fees collected, along with the lack of admissions, commissions, concessions revenue. Getting age group parents to buy into allowing their young kids to swim a meet while they are waiting in the car is also a tough sell. Probably will lead to them congregating outside the venue waiting for their kid anyways. Have a hard time with parents trying to handhold their kid onto the deck when they drop them off already. Literally had a 12 & U State… Read more »


Intrasquads are able to be sanctioned. Several happen in our LSC every year that are sanctioned.


I agree Your Right.
Hold Your own meet

Fix your technique

USA swimming has no authority to cancel practices, there is no sanctioning process for practices. If you going to give guidance to people please don’t miss lead. USA swimming only sanctions swim meets.

Also, there is no reason that teams can run groups of 10, pending cost and space. If the space is there we should be encouraging groups of 10 to get back to the pool. Let’s push the door open if it is now unlocked!

Inclusive Parent

To that end, states where more restrictive regulations are in place still won’t be able to open pools and other facilities regardless. Please don’t start “pushing unlocked doors open” putting your swimmers and their families at risk. We are no where near managing this virus to a point where we can be open in most areas.


Common cold kills more kids each year than this virus. Don’t talk about protecting the kids.


I hope to god you don’t run a swim team and have the ability to put athletes and families at risk due to your lack of comprehension of this current situation.

You have the biggest sports leagues in the world staying at home and not working out together. Thinking you’re important enough to risk the lives of others for a few people to swim is incredibly selfish.


Feel sorry for your kids


Wow, great point I had never considered that before. Forget the public health experts and the epidemiologists who have studied this for decades and are recommending that we take measures never before seen to mitigate this thing, this guy says the common cold kills more! Put him in front of the nation! Step aside Fauci, an Anonymous SwimSwam commenter is here to save the day!


Hmm……………………….I don’t seem to remember overloaded health facilities due to the common cold! This analogy makes no sense and is very dangerous. But, if you have no problem with all of this, then please volunteer at a health facility or nursing home, and do it without gloves or a mask.


Per the CDC, there were approximately 55,000 deaths in 2017 from influenza and pneumonia, among other upper respiratory diseases such as the common cold (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm). This is the total number of deaths in the U.S. from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, a 365 day time period. This equates to approximately 150 daily deaths. At the time of me typing this, there are 37,730 deaths in the U.S. due to COVID-19, with the first death occurring on February 28th. Nearly 38,000 deaths within a 50 day window, which equates to approximately 760 daily deaths, significantly more than the daily average deaths due to the flu, cold, and other respiratory diseases. What’s more, however, is that the rate of deaths… Read more »

While I do agree with 90% of what you’ve written, he might be correct that the common cold kills more each year (though of course, the deaths in children is not the problem, so much as who they might be carrying it home to). NYC data shows 3 deaths among children, all with underlying conditions, out of 6,839 deaths through April 14th. If that ratio held true nationally, that would be about 17 deaths among children from COVID-19 so far. There’s no real data on deaths caused by the common cold, because “the common cold” is a loose definition of symptoms, and not an actual disease. But, do more than 17 children die in the U.S. every year because of… Read more »


If their point was strictly child deaths, then yes, they are most likely correct. But like you said, it’s not about the child death rates of the virus, it’s who the children spread the virus to. Keeping schools, youth sports programs, etc, open arguably wouldn’t have endangered *a ton* of kids, but they would’ve acted like super spreaders, extending the virus to the much more vulnerable.

Sure. But you directly disputed his claim that the common cold kills more children every year.

Justin Thompson's

It’s also with mentioning that there’s a lot of uncertainty around this virus. Initial models suggested 2.2 million deaths in the US alone while more recent ones suggest 60k. There’s also information coming out, such as the study from Stanford which suggests that there may be significantly more (up to 50 times) people who have been infected and have recovered than originally reported.
Not taking one side or the other here, but as we get further into this and more data comes out, it seems to be trending down from original estimates.


There are a lot of problems with the Stanford study.


There are also a lot of problems with Ferguson’s original estimate. This is a long game and many nations didn’t play it well. Sweden got beat up in the press but let’s see how it looks a year from now.

B1G Daddy

We’re already at 43K in the US, and that number went up by 2400 in the last 24 hours. We’ll hit 60K by next Thursday.


There have not been close to 37k deaths in the US. What are you talking about? Recheck your own source while you create your own narrative.

Wood – the CDC acknowledges that the data on the page you linked is out of date before it’s published. In fact, there’s more paragraphs on that page explaining why it’s probably not right than there is actual data on the page.


Brandon, yes they do. Everyone is going to have their own opinions and conclusions based on what they choose to believe. I look forward to swimming again. Hope we can all agree on that, and my apologies for my comments above. It was unnecessary and not needed on this forum.

Irish Ringer

According to most Covid-19 trackers the number is between 34K and 39K


You are right, but you will see in a one year period COV19 deaths will be close to flu deaths since the current fatality rate will not continue for a whole year because it will spike and then drop significantly
600,000 fatalities in 2009 from H1N1, we will probably get to those numbers with this virus before it falters

B1G Daddy

Anonymous? Usually when I see posts like this it’s from “HomeOfTheBrave874309147”, an account with three followers and only replies.


They have deemed pools safe, practicing social distancing on deck should alleviate any risk of getting the covid-19 virus. Also, swimmers will not be able to swim unless they are healthy. I do not want to get sick, but keeping everyone from working out swimming isn’t healthy and it is frustrating as heck. No one is taking this crisis lightly, it is time to get back in the water and be healthier for doing it. Did you know that having sufficient vitamin d in your system is suppose to keep you from getting as sick from the virus, Being outside in the sunshine is a great source of vitamin d. It is a win win situation.

Ol' Longhorn

I’m sure someone in the backroom of USA swimming and all large club teams is asking about the costs of potential liability. Knowing us (the USA), there will be a spate of lawsuits for the first athletes that get seriously ill from COVID-19 when a team ignores whatever restrictions are imposed by the larger sanctioning body or local/state guidelines. We’ve already seen the kids at Liberty U. sue the school even though they voluntarily went back. Even with a liability waiver, the lawsuits will still come, and clubs and the larger sanctioning bodies need to ask if they can afford them and how to mitigate potential damages. It’s always about the dineros.

Anonymous Texan

There seems to be no room for a difference of opinion on this subject. If someone wants to go back to work, play golf, go to a restaurant, or heaven forbid hold a swim practice that fits within the guidelines some people believe they are ignorant and being led around by the devil. For someone to say that they “feel sorry for this persons children” or that they “hope to god you don’t run a swim team”…. really??? You feel sorry for their children??? Please don’t assume everyone feels the same way that do. Don’t assume we all watch the same new channel or read the same newspaper. And I believe that the “experts” have signed off on this plan… Read more »


The death projections keep lowering because the extreme measures are working, probably because the initial estimates didn’t actually expect Americans to listen. Think about it: we’ve totally shut down almost all of the US in an unprecedented way, and we’ve still had 35k deaths within the last month. Can you imagine what it’d be if we’d kept things normal? It’s a pandemic, bud.


Why does the use of ‘bud’ imply such a strong meaning now a days? Almost makes me cringe to read it.


I know today is national 4/20 day, SWIM4 did you mean “but” makes you almost cringe. Although perhaps “bud(s)” could prove useful in combating COVID 19.


I saw an article that cigarette smoking can help a person not get the virus. How weird is that?


I am all for freedom of choice and “difference of opinion” as long as that hurts yourself only. I advocate lagalizing all drugs, for example and against helmet laws. But, once you are likely to kill another person, that “freedom of choice” stops there. Some of our rights must be suspended in pandemics.

Anonymous Texan

Please forgive me, but, I don’t really think you believe in freedom of choice or a difference of opinion, especially because you put it in quotes. I am going to guess you believe in freedom of choice and a difference of opinion when it doesn’t offend you too much. I will go out on a limb and assume that you think I am a right wing nut that doesn’t care about the at risk population, I probably really offend you with my attitude about this “pandemic”. That is fine, you can think what you want to think. Being okay with the suspension of rights is a scary idea that I am not willing to accept. It also appears that American… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn

Although the drone footage of the “massive” protests are pretty hilarious.

B1G Daddy

He was quoting you. My God.


USA Swimming is responsible for issuing the swim cards for each swimmer. Pursuant to guidelines a swimmer is required to have an active card to be on deck. You want to see USA Swimming cancel practices- push hard enough and watch them suspend and entire team because the recklessness of a coach. You have to understand that this is new territory because there is NO CURE!!! That is why you are having people act the way they are. You say kick open the door, but in reality how many other people are going to follow suit. You want a swim meet to count your swimmers time- no sanction no meet. USA swimming as well as the local LSC have control… Read more »

John Bradley

Very well written. Thank you.


Correct Mr. Bradley

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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