Decisions Loom in Several States to Determine Fate of Summer Swimming

120706-F-MQ656-228 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (July 6, 2012) Sailors from the Royal New Zealand navy and U.S. Navy dive into the pool to start a 200-meter freestyle relay during a Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) international swim meet. Over one hundred Sailors from multiple nations gathered at Scott Pool to compete in a friendly swim meet and get to know each other prior to the start of the operational portion of RIMPAC 2012. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from Jun. 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the worlds oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971. (Department of Defense photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/Released)
Photo Courtesy: Michael R. Holzworth, TSgt, USAF

Government decisions in several states this week could influence the extent to which summer swimming is allowed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is expected to announce a plan Thursday for the place of swimming pools and summer activities in the state’s economic reopening. The statewide reopening process began May 1 with expanded medical services. Retail was included this week, with outdoor bar/restaurant service beginning Friday and indoor dining to restart May 21.

DeWine assembled a working group for youth and adult sports. Ohio has had 25,250 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,436 deaths, as of Tuesday.

Tennessee won’t open pools at 13 state parks this summer due to COVID-19, it announced Wednesday.

“COVID-19 presents unique challenges for managing pools – they are confined spaces not conducive to social distancing and the very nature of lifeguarding requires close contact with pool users and creates potential for unnecessary risk in life-saving situations,” Kim Schofinski, the Deputy Communications Director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, told Nashville’s WKRN. “We apologize for this inconvenience and look forward to the next opportunity we have to reopen the pool for visitors’ enjoyment.”

Elsewhere, the question comes down to jurisdiction over summer swimming. In Illinois, where at least one county has given provisional approval to open pools, the final authority rests with the state government.

Clubs in Pennsylvania are fighting to clarify language from the state’s “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania,” on whether summer swimming clubs qualify as camps or gyms, which affects which phase of reopening a county or region must reach before they open. Two leagues in the center of the state, the Mid Penn Swim League and Capital Area Swim League, opted to cancel their seasons this week, while clubs in suburban Philadelphia are fighting to open, even if their planned summer seasons are diminished.

Kentucky swim clubs have launched a campaign called “Save Our Summer” seeking to get swimming pools reopened this summer. As of Wednesday evening, the petition has more than 15,000 signatures.

Positive news came from Georgia Tuesday, which decreed that public pools will be allowed to open.

Wednesday also brought another league cancellation, with the Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association in Virginia wiping out its summer slate.

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


  1. Kelly Spencer Williams

    Union County in North Carolina has allowed clubs to open back up as “day camps”

  2. David Barton

    Some assistance for MN and the teenage demographic.

    • Peter Scott

      David Barton …….what this doesn’t highlight is the damaged health of those that survived. All this shows is infected and death but nothing in between.?stay safe?

    • Rob Richardson

      David Barton exactly. The issue isn’t for the kids.

    • David Barton exactly and certainly not a problem for athletes. I keep asking for someone to show me those numbers. Meanwhile swimmers everywhere are struggling to stay in shape. This was their life!

      • avatar
        Anthony Zupancic

        Elite swimmers are not the only ones that need swimming. I’m 69, have cerebral palsy on one side, back stenosis, and curvature of the spine. Swimming is the only exercise I can do. I swim at an indoor pool at a YMCA near Pittsburgh. The Ys and gyms in Pennsylvania are not allowed to be reopened yet. I can walk about 20 feet with a cane before by back gives me extreme pain.

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

        Anthony … you raise an important issue: it’s important that phased strategies to open swim pools up make priority provision for therapeutic/rehabilitative uses in the groups of those at the helm of consideration and planning. I hope you can soon return to the water.

  3. Dick Beaver

    LOOM and FATE.
    Nice headline SWM.

  4. Angie Reese Mudd

    Have hardly heard anything about any plans either way here in Colorado!

  5. Kimberly Joy

    There was no reason to shut things down to begin with. Shame on every local and state authorities that did so. Open the damn pools …it’s time

  6. Andy Gallion

    The ax has already fallen for the 17,000 Northern VA Swim League

  7. avatar
    Rick Kozlowski

    The CDC has stated that COVID 19 cannot survive in chlorinated pools.
    My suggestions for pools are
    1. Open pools without opening locker rooms. Swimmers come prepared to swim immediately and leave once out of the pool.
    2. Swimmers must use physical distancing when out of the pool and recommend use of face coverings.
    3. Permit no more than four people per lane, ideally only two. Swimmers start their intervals from opposite sides of the pool.
    4. Those using a restroom must sanitize it after usage.
    5. Lifeguard use PPE.
    6. A waiver must be signed and on record that the pool user is accepting the possibility of contracting the COVID virus and releases all involved of liability.