David Marsh to Gavin Newsom: “We’d Love to Get These Pools Open”

David Marsh; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Team Elite swimming coach David Marsh took to Twitter Saturday morning with a message to Gavin Newsom exhorting the California governor to open pools in the state.

Marsh filmed the video outside the gates of Team Elite’s facilities in San Diego, urging the governor to lift restrictions on pools in California as its economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. From Marsh’s video:

“A quick message to the governor: Gov. Newsom, we’d love to get these pools open. Lap swimmers, swimmers that use swimming for their lifelong fitness, love to get in there. We can do it very safely and in a controlled manner with coaches and lifeguards, making sure physical distancing is taking care of. Also, want you know that with the chlorine and the UVs, it’s one of the safest places we can be and we will take good care of our time and be super careful.”

Pressure has been building in Southern California to get back into the water. The voice of Marsh, the 12-time NCAA champion and coach of 49 Olympians, is the latest in the conversation. Six facilities in San Diego County submitted proposals last week to the county’s health department to reopen, but all were denied.

California is reopening from the coronavirus pandemic according to a four-stage plan called its “Resilience Roadmap”. San Diego County hasn’t yet passed into Stage 2. The state’s website lists 22 counties that have entered Stage 2 of reopening, primarily in the rural north and east of the state. However, San Diego County has experienced some lessening of restrictions on businesses. Progress between stages owes not just to the prevalence of COVID-19 cases but ancillary factors like testing/healthcare system capacities, ability to protect essential “Stage 1” workers and structural vulnerabilities in the populations.

But even when San Diego County gets to Stage 2, pools are not explicitly allowed to open. From the California Department of Public Health, among the businesses not eligible to open even in Stage 2 are “personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios” and “community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas”.

David Marsh and others argue that pools like Team Elite’s don’t operate as community centers. Because of factors like membership models and rigorous scheduling, swim clubs can operate without running afoul of capacity limits or violating social distancing regulations. Marsh also tweeted a link to USA Swimming’s guidelines on reopening facilities, and many others have cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on the low risk of COVID-19 transmission in treated water.

“We’re very, very comfortable that lap swimming and swim practices can be done safely, and that coaches can stand on deck and enforce physical distancing,” Sally Taggart, general chair of the San Diego-Imperial Swimming LSC of which Team Elite is a part, told the San Diego Union-Tribune Friday. “We can do this safely. It’s a question of do you consider this passive exercise activity that can be supervised, or do you think about this as your neighborhood pool where kids are playing Marco Polo? We’re saying it’s for lap swimming and swim practices. It’s going to be a while before Marco Polo comes back.”

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


    • avatar

      As much as I’d like my 3 swimmers back in the pool, that won’t happen until they’re safe. Only 3% in the US have tested. We don’t know based on that. Stay safe.

  1. Allie Jon

    Coaches need to step up in NY too and get our pools open.

  2. avatar

    Thanks David Marsh!

    15 other states have already opened their pools for lap swimming, or have announced that they will soon—even the governor of New Jersey has announced that pools in his state will be opening soon. Most of these states have implemented restrictions on capacity and distancing that are workable and make sense. As presented in another article, USA Swimming has also developed a comprehensive set of guidelines for pools to reopen, and can be used by our teams.

    Please Governor Newsom, our teams have the proper protocols in place and can open up pools safely. Don’t let California’s athletes be disadvantage compared to other state’s athletes, let them get back into the water to train, and train safely.

  3. Ray Smith

    NC pools need to open! Kids have worked very hard to see it be put off any longer.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Ray Smith I toughed it out when I was a kid, but now we have to treat them like entitled babies

    • Ray Smith

      Rob Hauptschein good for you. Has nothing to do with being entitled! It has everything to do with a sport they love.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Ray Smith not everything; need to balance in public health safety for the greater good unless it has everything to do with muh freedom

    • Darren Ward

      Ray Smith boo hoo.. people are dying. Give it a rest.. they are young and swimming will return.

    • Ray Smith

      Darren Ward please by all means live under your rock! Hide for ever! It doesn’t mean everyone else should. People die everyday for just about everything! Get over it

    • Ron Buda

      Ray Smith Really?? Are you human? Grow a heart.

    • Darren Ward

      Ray Smith dude, swimmers all over the world have worked hard.. get out of your small pond and look at it globally. The world doesn’t revolve around your tiny little corner of North Carolina.

    • Ray Smith

      Darren Ward I wasn’t talking about only NC Swimmers I was talking swimming in general. Other places are opening up I was just stating we should as well.

    • Darren Ward

      Ray Smith no… you really shouldn’t .

  4. Kimberly Joy

    Everything should be open. These shutdowns never should have happened. I don’t blame them for shutting everything down for a few weeks and March when everyone was panicking and we didn’t know what we were dealing with. But now this has been around long enough and it is clear that most people who get this will have 0 or very few issues. The mortality rate is akin to the flew over all. It’s time to move on with our lives and go back to normal and not this new normal they are pushing.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Kimberly Joy so your new normal is normalizing the almost 100,000 deaths so far (far higher than the flu despite your minimization). Are you in favor or disfavor of pool restrictions like social distancing for the greater public good?

    • avatar

      Kimberly – please do some more research on COVID-19 for your safety and people around you. We have three swimmers and hate like hell to miss this season. Please don’t mess with this virus, it will kill you. It’s worse than you believe.

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      Please,stop down playing the pandemic,unless you or your family was on the frontline you’ll never know the reality.Lives trump getting back in the pool.Sorry but it’s true and no,it’s not again to any flu.

    • Blake Friis

      New normal is a joke! Scandinavian countries and some in Asia, like Taiwan didn’t shut down and they’re doing fine!

    • Dave Johnson

      Rob Hauptschein go swim some laps then.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Blake Friis not exactly. Sweden has a high death rate. Taiwan took early measures that the USA failed very badly to do at all. S Korea is another big success story due to smart leadership there; in fact, I swam in the year 1988 summer Olympic pool in Seoul, which was quite an interesting experience

    • Doug Schack

      Rob Hauptschein “new normal” is a scare phrase developed by the media to keep you coming back for more drama. Even in the medical dark ages of 1918 things got back to normal.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Doug Schack that’s nice. Do you abide by suggested public health measures like social distancing and masking in these days, Or do you not at all?

    • Doug Schack

      Rob Hauptschein it’s not “far higher” than the flu. 1957-58 flu pandemic killed up to 116,000 Americans and we don’t even remember it happened. Nor did we shut down the country. And the current count is 81,400 so stop exaggerating by 25%

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Doug Schack it will most certainly be far higher as the projected rate will rise above 116K before even the start of summer, in the first half of this calendar year. Are you now social distancing, masking, Or not at all?

    • Doug Schack

      Rob Hauptschein so now you’ve gone from exaggerating by nearly 25% to “well it probably will be by xxx date”. Stop the drama.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Doug Schack No drama from me as I am replying to comments in a rational manner. The numbers are projections. I believe about 2000 Americans died on the virus in the last 24 hours (like almost 9/11). Drama is provided by the “but muh freedom” types without a sense of civic responsibility. On another note, I believe the polio epidemic ended just prior to 1957/8 (I was unborn then) due to a vaccine and I recall water-based transmissions were an issue for that one, but I need to confirm that history. Are you now social distancing & masking when near others, stores, Or not at all?

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Doug Schack thanks for confirming the 1524 number as about 2000; thankfully less. Suggest be a forest, big picture trend type of guy rather than a technical tree-level nit-picker, if you can. ((Pool chlorine does kill polio (and we are vaccinated in this country except maybe for some crazed wackos, but less clear with Corona and then the airborne mist transmission is an issue)). Are you now social distancing, masking, Or not at all?

    • Doug Schack

      Rob Hauptschein it’s not nitpicking. It’s a 25% exaggeration. No one would every say “about a 1000 died today” when in fact the number is 1500. No one would ever say that over 8000 recovered from it yesterday. Because that’s not dramatic.

    • Bob McAdams

      Rob Hauptschein Actually, there have been more than 300,000 deaths from covid-19 worldwide. But how many of those deaths appear to have been from the virus being spread at swim practices?

      • avatar

        Doug – the media provides information for you to use. If you believe it’s more than that, it could be the network you watch. This is a deadly virus. It will kill you. I’m scared for my family. Please keep your family safe and be cautious, it’s not a media trick. It’s a deadly virus. Don’t believe political speeches. Listen to scientists and doctors, I believe them with my family’s health, not the POTUS.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Bob McAdams Idk but gyms and pools were mostly closed in March nationwide. You can pull that data from Sweden. Spreading and subsequent deaths can occur and has been documented during close proximity which is rationale for social distancing and masking. Are you social distancing, masking Or not at all?

    • Bob McAdams

      Pools in my area were all closed in mid-March when the virus was spreading. But, while I’ve heard of a case where the virus was spread at a church choir rehearsal, I haven’t heard of anything comparable happening at a swim team practice, even though swim team practices were occurring a lot more frequently than church choir rehearsals.

      It is known that chlorine in pools provides protection against the spread of viruses. So unless there are cases I haven’t heard about, people are ultimately keeping pools closed because somebody somewhere has an unverified THEORY that there’s a remote possibility that the virus might be spread through pool decks or ladders. But it’s known for certain (I’ve seen the studies in refereed medical journals) that regular swimming tends to reduce your likelihood of dying from a number of serious ailments, some of which increase your likelihood of dying from the covid-19 virus, if you get it.

    • Bob McAdams

      Rob Hauptschein Sorry! I realized I didn’t answer two of your questions:

      Yes, I am engaging in social distancing. And yes I wear a face covering when I am going anywhere that I will encounter people, but that’s not significant because it’s required where I live. (It was pretty weird, too! One thing that has been unchanging about the CDC recommendations is that nobody but health care workers treating patients should be wearing N95 masks, because there aren’t enough of them for everybody to wear one, so if people try, it will create shortages for the medical people who really need them. But the CDC went almost overnight from belittling people who wore non-medical masks to recommending that people wear them. And within a week, the state was requiring people to wear them.)

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Bob McAdams life extends beyond your area and your personal heresay. Try some safe dryland to cross train and stay chronically healthy.

    • Tamara Olberg-Kelm

      Maureen Fluehr Carll , my 55 year old husband ( with additional health issues) , and 13 year old son both had it……… It amounted to a high fever. So in my opinion it is not so much people downplaying, it’s the up playing that is the problem.

      Side note, yes it is concerning and requires precautions, but this is RIDICULOUS!!!!!

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      Tamara Oberg- Kelm,everybody is different.I’m happy your family survived.But it’s far from ridiculous and you wouldn’t think it was ridiculous had things been worse for your loved ones.Really,all of this over getting into a pool?Really?How does getting back in the water become such a big deal?That’s ridiculous

  5. avatar

    Open the pools at a minimum for lap swim, competitive team practices, and masters programs.

    Open them NOW!!

  6. avatar

    I live in California. As long as Gavin Newsome is the governor nothing will open. He already made it clear that he is going to wait until a vaccine(which I am not going to take)is available before he gives us the freedom to be Americans again.

  7. Darren Ward

    As a Canadian I shake my head at the selfish attitudes that you Americans display… you are so far from out of the woods it’s ridiculous. But hey, if your temporary loss of freedom is more important than 100’s of thousands of lives lost then so be it. All fine and dandy until it hits close to home.. as your illustrious president would say “It’s just a hunch”

    • Sandy Riddell Wagner

      Darren Ward some of us on this side of the border are also shaking our heads. When did sport and haircuts and stuff become more important than lives. #stayinghome

    • Darren Ward

      Sandy Riddell Wagner exactly, but your moron of a “leader” is hell bent on distributing misinformation to win an election… it’s really pathetic … the entire world sees it except for die hard Trumpers. I feel so badly for you.

    • Sheri Thompson

      The curve has already been flattened. Now we need to build up our immune systems vs the other thousands of viruses that exist by getting out in the world.

    • Stephanie Davis

      Sheri Thompson, you sound like a wannabe scientist who doesn’t have a clue. smh

    • Darren Ward

      Sheri Thompson You haven’t flattened shit, you think a couple of weeks without cases going higher is flattening it ? You have NGDC!!

    • Darren Ward

      Russell Dale I have no issue with that.

    • Steffanie Garcia

      It’s a plandemic. The sooner people realize this, the sooner pools will open. The people need to rise up.

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Steffanie.. it’s a pandemic that needs a plan and won’t get one from people who can’t get past their own ‘plandemic’ conspiracy theories. The people who rise up on issues that involve the safety of others would need to be prepared to accept full liability, accountability and responsibility for outcomes.

  8. Lisa Greenberg

    San Diego I believe had one of the lowest rates. Mayor, not Govenor for help. One a California town made their city a sanctuary city for all businesses to be open today.

  9. Carole Anne

    Northeast will be behind the rest of the nation…as usual?. Open the POOLS!

  10. Tracy Maurer

    Over a dozen states with indoor pools are opening, CA outdoor pools should be open.