Chattanooga Swim League Joins Cancellation List as COVID-19 Restrictions Elsewhere Ease

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Photo Courtesy: The Langley Club

The Chattanooga Area Swim League became the latest summer league to cancel its season, but other states have provided some good news in the quest to return to the pool amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CASL serves more than 1,000 competitors from all over southeastern Tennessee. But Tuesday, the league cancelled its season, citing the ongoing restrictions around coronavirus.

“Due to multiple factors, including Governor Bill Lee’s ‘Tennessee Pledge,’ which states that all adult and youth sports leagues will remain closed under the guidelines until further notice, as well as news that some of our team pools have already decided not to open for the season, the board voted to cancel the 2020 season,” the CASL board announced in a statement. “No dual meets will be sanctioned by CASL, and the 2020 Bill Caulkins City Meet Championship is canceled. We sincerely hope that everyone understands and appreciates the difficulty of the decision to cancel the CASL season for the first time since the league began. …

“We feel profound sadness knowing the disappointment this will cause, but the decision was made to prioritize the safety of our participants, supporters and communities.”

Pools in North Carolina could open as soon as this weekend, provided conditions remain steady. Gov. Roy Cooper is set to allow the state to enter Phase 2 of the its COVID-19 reopening plan Friday, which would allow pools to open with added safety precautions in place.

“We know that the pools will need to do things to protect folks,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary. “It will likely require them having less people around than at full capacity, making sure that they’re spacing chairs around the pool, wearing face coverings when they’re not directly in the pool and then once in the pool to have some social distancing with them, as well.”

Several pools in Ohio, which got the OK from Gov. Mike DeWine to open May 26, are preparing plans to do so.

Despite the glimmers of hope, it’s only a slight shift in the tide toward summer cancellations. Kentucky has been the site of one of the most contentious battles to let private pools open. But one of Louisville’s biggest clubs, Lakeside Swim Club, announced Tuesday that it wouldn’t open for the season. More than 9,000 members call the 96-year-old club home, including several former Olympians.

In a conversation with Swimming World, Kentucky LSC general chair Amy Albiero, who coaches at Cardinal Aquatics, said that she’d had a dialogue with Lakeside and Louisville’s other major club, Triton, about possibly sharing facilities.

Pools remain a sticking point in Kansas. Gov. Laura Kelly announced that the state will advance Friday to “modified phase 2” of its COVID-19 recovery. While gatherings of 15 or fewer people and youth sports practices can occur, swimming pools remain closed, grouped with bars and nightclubs as the only businesses still restricted.

One city that hasn’t been willing to ride out the uncertainty is Overland Park, which voted to keep its five city pools shut this season. Several cities in the Jayhawk State have reached that decision.

In Pennsylvania, closures have swept through the central and western part of the states. The Lehigh Valley added to that with 11 public pools in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton announcing they won’t open. Many of the areas remain in the harshest phase of that state’s three-stage restrictions, the “red phase.” Even if those areas advance to the “yellow phase,” public gatherings would be limited to 25 of fewer people. Those three cities join many smaller municipalities in cancelling their summer openings.

Though pools in Texas were green-lighted to open May 8, the city of Austin is keeping its pools closed. Part of the reason is a hiring freeze that affects the ability to staff its workforce of 700 lifeguards.

One flipside to the closing of pools, as yet undiscussed given the seriousness of the pandemic, is a fear of unsupervised swimming. Particularly as the first holiday weekend of the summer, Memorial Day, nears, there’s a concern in Texas about a spike in drownings as kids swim with less supervision or in more dangerous bodies of water.

Swimming Through a Pandemic

The postponements and cancellations wrought by COVID-19 haven’t just affected the Olympics and the ranks of elite swimmers. They’ve trickled down to neighborhood clubs and summer youth leagues, affecting thousands of recreational and competitive swimmers alike. Here is some of our coverage of COVID-19’s effect on the American summer swimming calendar.

Resources for returning to the pool in the COVID-19 era
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