How Rogue Approach Got Mission Viejo Back in Water; Ruffled Feathers in SoCal Circles

Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

SoCal LSC Concerns

On Friday May 1, the swimming community saw a glimpse of some normalcy when long-time Olympic coach Mark Schubert had a select group of about 18 Mission Viejo swimmers adhere to strict social distancing guidelines in their first organized swim practice back since mid-March. Schubert was permitted to make a return to the pool from the mayor of the city, who also was a former swimmer of Schubert’s, 1976 Olympic gold medalist Brian Goodell.

Schubert indicated that Mission Viejo received a letter from USA Swimming giving clearance to practice, but that letter was actually the organization’s guidelines for returning to practice, and it was sent to all clubs. Within the guidelines, it was noted that if a club seeks to return to practice, it should do so in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Many in the Southern California region are asking questions: how was Schubert able to make a return to the pool when the rest of the LSC (local swimming committee) has not been permitted to do the same? Southern California Swimming LSC leader Terry Stoddard told Swimming World he had spent the majority of Saturday answering requests from people within the community about why Schubert was given the green light when no one else had.

SoCal Swimming had a plan in place for when it might be safe to return to the pool with a goal date of June 1. Stoddard had recently read reports that Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus originated, was ending its lockdown and allowing its citizens to return to the streets, nearly 76 days after the city first shut everything down. If that same timeline was applied to the United States, then a June return would be feasible.

SoCal Swimming instituted a 30-60-90 day plan for the summer. The day that teams were allowed to go back to holding organized practices, there would be no competitions for 30 days. The next 30 days, Stoddard explained, the various clubs in the LSC would be permitted to hold local swim meets, or virtual swim meets where clubs hold time trials in their home pool and compare times with other clubs doing the same, with only a small number of participants in the area so people would not need to travel very far. The last 30 days, the LSC would put in competitions that were time-based so those swimmers with the acquired time standards would swim in a “festival” as a “celebration, where just their committee came together and competed” as Stoddard put it to Swimming World.

But Schubert, who is a coach in the SoCal LSC, had already scheduled his own plan for his athletes to come back to the pool.

“There was no request or approval process for any club to return to the pool,” Stoddard told Swimming World. “We are deferring to local, state and federal guidelines. The governor and the mayor said May 15 was the first time we were allowed out of our houses. I spent all day yesterday responding to emails asking ‘how did they get to do that?’; ‘why did they get to do that?’; ‘how is this allowed?’; and ‘how does the city municipality have more authority than the state?’ And those questions are still unanswered to me.”

Politics are obviously playing a huge role in this pandemic, and Stoddard is wondering how certain levels of the government can be ignored when lower levels of the government provide a green light. Schubert noted that “USA Swimming sent a letter to the city endorsing it and there we go.”  That letter, as noted above, was the guidelines document sent by the national organization. Whether it is in Southern California, at a club in Florida or at a club in Ohio, there are surely going to be questions as to how Mission Viejo has an opening that others do not.

“There was no communication between Mission Viejo Nadadores, as a club of Southern California Swimming, that they had an intent to return to the pool,” Stoddard said. “It has been the understanding of everyone in the state of California mandated by the governor that we have a stay-at-home directive. Any authority in Southern California swimming was at home . We all want to go back to the pool. And we read that the city of Mission Viejo agreed to that and USA Swimming agreed to that (which it did not). There has been no communication with the club of Mission Viejo or the city. I don’t think it is a big deal that Brian Goodell is the mayor. If the city has agreed to it, then they’ve agreed to it. The questions I’m getting asked are ‘can they agree to it when the governor is saying no?’ I don’t have the answers. I’d have to ask USA Swimming why they gave permission to just Mission Viejo and not anybody else. USA Swimming has deferred to local, state and federal regulations. The local regulations said they could go back to swim, the state regulation is they can’t go back to swim. That’s above my pay grade. My opinion is that Southern Californians should be following the directives of our governor because we are safer at home.”

Stoddard got word of Mission Viejo’s return to the pool when he read Swimming World’s breaking account of the story, which indicated the team followed strict guidelines and had 18 swimmers in the water.

“The first I learned of Schubert was waking up the next day and getting texts from (SoCal) people informing me of the article,” Stoddard said. “I read an article on CBS news that indicated swimming was not an included activity to be allowed during this. The list is huge but does not include swimming. I have read and heard that the virus does not survive in chlorinated water.”


  1. avatar

    TYPICAL Schubert…always making his own rules and ignoring mandates and common sense.

  2. avatar


    • avatar

      Hahaha NO but now you know the Deep Stare will publish one. Hahaha let the young adults swim. Oh wait Hahaha if we have to stand 6 – 13 feet apart on land, maybe just maybe since some of those little burgers can fly from person to person, then maybe a handful can swim. Who knows maybe even swim 6 – 20 feet. WHAT A JOKE. Let the kids swim

  3. Dick Beaver

    Ya gotta get the foot in the door. Congrats Mark for getting things started.

  4. Julie Tellier

    Well first, way to go coach for reaching out to USA Swimming and your Mayor. Second SoCal is so disorganized and poorly operated even if Schubert asked them for permission he would still be waiting for them to answer!!

    • avatar
      Mark Schubert

      True that!

    • Debbie Terry

      Julie Tellier waiting is what he needs to do! What a pompous jerk he is!

    • Debbie Terry

      Spencer Pinter where did that come from?

  5. avatar
    Gold level Concerns

    The disorganization and inability to follow their own rules has been a common theme for years. Meet Sanction approval being a fine example of such disregard of policy. The method of ignoring the chain of command and going around certain rules so that favoritism and politics can selectively decide when to break the rules is nothing new in Southern California.

  6. Kimberly Joy

    Given that outdoor recreation like swim clubs or gyms is not allowed until phase 3 of the state plan, don’t see how this is legal.

  7. avatar

    Is there any evidence worldwide of anyone contracting COVID-19 while swimming laps in an outdoor pool?

    • avatar

      Hahaha NO but now you know the Deep Stare will publish one. Hahaha let the young adults swim. Oh wait Hahaha if we have to stand 6 – 13 feet apart on land, maybe just maybe since some of those little burgers can fly from person to person, then maybe a handful can swim. Who knows maybe even swim 6 – 20 feet. WHAT A JOKE. Let the kids swim.

  8. Jamie Yates Feyk

    Hey, he took a chance. It worked out in his favor. We need to get our high level swimmers back in the water, the clock is ticking for the high school kids and COVID 19 isn’t spread through the pool. If you read all the precautions Mission Viejo and Schubert have put in place, it’s safe. He’s also extremely lucky the mayor of MV is a former Nadadore! Let’s work to get back in the pool!

  9. There are other states that have swimmers back in pools as of last week……

  10. He’s following safety guidelines and worked with his city and club to make it happen. Praise him and follow suite. More pools should open for the swimmers with the guidelines set in place.

  11. Kyle Cowan

    We all want our kids in the pool AT THE SAME TIME. MVN gets a month head start?!?

    • Spencer Pinter

      Kyle Cowan – I know clubs in Southern Nevada that will be back in the pool within the next 2 weeks. Similar guidelines.

  12. Cara Jones

    What a negative, borderline jealous, headline.

  13. Spencer Pinter

    Just there in February for the Elite Showcase West. Kids loved the meet and the venue. Good work, Coach! Kids can’t wait to swim another meet in MV.

  14. Julie Tellier

    This is the same exact story you posted yesterday just with a different headline

    • Doug Schack

      Julie Tellier tomorrow’s headline “Pissed So-cal swimmers question Mission Viejo’s return to the water”

    • Julie Tellier

      Our team here in Vegas is a part of SoCal swim. Our Mayor is Caroline Goodman. She clearly would let any team here in LV get back to practice ?

  15. Dick Beaver

    Hey Swimming World, how about jumping on the bandwagon, and START PUSHING FOR THE OPENING OF THE WORLD’S SWIMMING PROGRAMS?

    • Amy Hennies Priddle

      How may hundreds of kids are on Mission Viejo? Only 18 got to train…that’s it. It’s just going to take time to safely open up.

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

      We tend not to jump on band wagons, Dick… the causes and things we support are driven by how we feel regardless of who or how many others that may or may not support or be supported by … but the only band wagon to be on with this theme is that which advocates safety first and a sensible return to the water as and when it is safe and appropriate to do so, in line with the rest of society and taking into account local conditions and with the view of experts constantly in the mix. We have been on that same wagon from the start … and that won’t change. There is a balance to be struck and many are trying to find that balance right now as they plan for possibilities. The balance to be struck includes the risks to people, communities far and wide beyond swimming. We have reported on safe efforts to get elite programs back into the water, mass club participation is quite another thing and the balance of things means that “pushing for the opening of the world’s swimming programs” is only worthwhile with “when its safe to do so”. As you will know from our diverse coverage, no program nor state nor nation is quite the same… what pertains to Mission Viejo with its outdoor 50m pool and a restriction of 18 swimmers split by 5min intervals between swimmers entering the water, does not pertain to a small community indoor 5 lane 25m pool with 200 club members and a club night of at least 100 folk in the swim in a matter of a few hours. The one rule fits all approach for the return of swimming worldwide simply does not work… and works far less well than a one rule ban in not much over a month in which the bulk of the quarter of a million lives lost have been lost. It may be frustrating but lockdown measures have prevented a much greater loss of life still. Swimming should return when its safe to do so, not just for the kid in lane 3 but for everyone that kid will come into contact with in the course of a day, days, weeks and the months ahead on the way to a vaccine and medication trialled and working and available. Swimming will be better for having said it did its bit when the world needed it to … and with respect to many different experiences of what has unfolded around the world in different measures and circumstances. ED

    • Paul Smith

      Dick Beaver exactly! Multiple head hunting articles…not journalism, editorial crap which means agenda

  16. avatar

    We should not be upset with Mission, but with the governor. That lunacy is lasting way too long. Everyone knows the risks, don’t go out if you are high risk, the rest – we need to go back to life