By Reach for the Wall Staff
A few more days pass and we learn of additional closures of summer leagues and cancellations of summer meets. May 14th, we were notified by the Central Maryland Swim League that they will not hold competitions this summer. This league has been in operation since 1972, consists of 9 divisions, 45 teams and over 4,500 swimmers. The announcement from their website follows:
“CMSL Friends & Family, Based on Maryland’s recovery stage and no clear timeline to stage 3, we have regrettably decided to cancel the 2020 CMSL season. We understand how disappointing this is for everyone that supports our league, but we cannot envision a way to safely and effectively run a meet under the current conditions. In addition, the uncertainty of knowing when (and if) we would have a season creates its own level of stress and anxiety, so we hope having a decision (albeit not the one we wanted) provides some relief. The Board greatly appreciates all of the input provided by many athletes, families, teams and pools. It is your commitment to the CMSL that will ensure we come back stronger in 2021.”
Now to share some GOOD news! Neighborhood pools in Northern Virginia have banded together to lobby the Governor in order to open on a limited basis (following CDC Phase 1 guidelines) and provide the benefit of aquatic based exercise to their membership. Here’s a few that have made announcements:
Villa Aquatic: “Villa Aquatic 2020 Phase 1 opening is May 29 – June 28th to include Lap swimming ONLY. All other pool use is prohibited during Phase 1. The Villa Aquatic Club is required to follow the guidance from Virginia’s Governor on opening the state up in Phase 1, 2 and 3. For more information on Phase 1 operations, please click the link below.”
Overlee: “… There have been a significant number of developments this week, including Governor Northam’s announcement that Northern Virginia can delay Phase 1 opening until May 29, 2020.
Community pools are unique in operational requirements. To that end, Overlee has joined 27 other Northern Virginia pools in requesting more clarity in guidelines as they relate to outdoor community pools. A copy of the letter is below for review.”
“As we get more clarity and direction on Phase 1 requirements, Overlee will issue our Phase 1 opening plan to membership. We anticipate that being available sometime next week. We thank you for being a part of the Overlee community and look forward to welcoming you back very soon.”
Kelly Elliott, a member of the swim community in Montgomery County, Maryland has created a Change.org petition to Governor Hogan to also consider the health benefits of lap swimming and allow pools to open.
“Maryland should open outdoor pools for lap swimming, even while pools are closed to recreational swimming. Exercise is an immune booster and many Maryland residents swim laps as a primary form of exercise. Swimming also has an advantage over other outdoor exercise because swimmers exhale into or immediately adjacent to the surface of the chlorinated pool. “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas,” according to the CDC’s website. “Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”
Consider signing the petition:
Also, on May 15, David Arluck, the Founder and CEO of Fitter and Faster, took to his Facebook page to advocate for opening pools:
“BE PROACTIVE about your situation!
It is not right for any high school pool, town pool, etc to be closed once any community’s stay at home order is lifted. Same goes for pools at Universities, privately held gyms and other facilities. Just because a high school is closed for students does not mean that their pool can not open. There’s a big difference between 25 kids in a classroom with several hundred other kids and adults in a building versus safely running swim practices.
Looking ahead, many pools will remain closed or have unreasonably strict restrictions that are over the top unnecessary. These facilities – especially those run by municipalities – rely on their local leaders for policies. Meanwhile, many local leaders are not prioritizing pools in the scheme of their community planning to properly serve their tax paying swimming patrons. Keeping pools closed or instituting a “one swimmer per lane policy” is over the top unnecessary. I encourage every single pool operator in the United States to:
- Rely on the NIH and CDC for information related to how the virus spreads
- Use the information above to be creative about your social distancing operating procedures
- Please, proactively educate your local leadership in your communities on your plans
Closed facilities and “one swimmer per lane” is damaging to many people in our communities throughout the United States and the sport as a whole. The entire sport is counting on all Aquatics Directors, facilities managers, coaches and others to stand up for themselves and their patrons in a proactive, creative SAFE way. I can see upon first opening a facility up to have just one swimmer per lane, but that number should scale up over days to more than that depending on the configuration of the facility and pool. Develop rules on use of locker rooms and bathrooms… Perhaps enforce that people need to arrive with their suits on and leave the facility with a wet suit. The planning will be a lot of work (and perhaps need many changes), but your effort will be so worth it! Below is a link to a helpful document prepared by USA Swimming that provides guidance on how swim practices can be run in a safe manner. Please leverage this document to develop concepts for your facilities and team practices.
Please be proactive with your local leaders – educate them. Let’s make sure they know you’re thinking through all the variables. Let’s get all local leaders across all of America to begin encouraging all pool operators to open their doors when stay at home orders are lifted and to develop reasonable safety guidelines.”
We remain hopeful that as the area begins to meet requirements for Phase 1 reopening that the operations and staff of our county and neighborhood pools can implement policies and procedures to allow swimmers to get back in the water.