Mission Viejo and Mark Schubert Splash Again Under Strict Social-Distancing Guidelines

Photo Courtesy: Mark Schubert

Mark Schubert, who has been on deck at seven Olympic Games and coaching at Mission Viejo in California, made his first appearance on the pool deck Friday after spending an extended amount of time away because of the Coronavirus pandemic, he announced on Facebook.

The legendary coach wrote a proposal to the city of Mission Viejo and got the green light to train a small group as long as they adhered to strict social distancing guidelines. Schubert indicated he received a clearance letter from USA Swimming, but that letter was the guidelines for returning, which required following local, state and federal rules. The Mayor in Mission Viejo? Former Schubert charge Brian Goodell, the Olympic 400m and 1500m freestyle champion of 1976 whose 30-lap victory was scorched to at the helm of a tight three-way battle with USA teammate Bobby Hackett and Australia’s Stephen Holland that remains one of the great Olympic swimming thrillers.


Mark Schubert (left) at the 2018 US Nationals. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The idea of making a safe return to the pool had been brewing in Schubert’s head for a couple weeks, and finally came to fruition on Friday.

“We just trained 18 swimmers – one per lane short course,” Mark Schubert told Swimming World. “They come in one at a time and put their equipment at the end of the lane. They come in with their suits on because the locker rooms and showers are locked. They swim the workout in the center of the lane because they are 9-foot lanes.

“When the workout is over with, they leave one at a time and go to their car one at a time and split. If they need to go to the bathroom, we have single bathrooms in the swim school and they are responsible for disinfecting it afterwards. We have disinfectant and hand sanitizer so the city was impressed.”

It was the first time Schubert and his Mission Viejo swimmers had been in the pool since mid-March.

“We went 4,000. It was a little over an hour. These guys are probably in the worst shape they have been in their life so I can’t kill them the first day.”

It’s going to take some time to get back to any sort of normalcy, but this is a good first step for Schubert and company.

“It felt great to be back on deck and I know they were really happy to be back in the pool.”

Schubert, who has coached numerous Olympic gold medalists such as Tiffany Cohen, Goodell and Lenny Krayzelburg, has a talented training group in southern California with Olympic hopefuls Michael Brinegar and Katie Crom. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1997.


  1. Christine MacAulay

    We wish here in Canada ?? our competitive swimmers could train

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Christine MacAulay I would love to see the same with USA elite level swimmers to. Nothing open in the south suburbs of Chicago.

    • Jennifer Williams

      All swimmers or just ELITE? If just ELITE what does that really mean? Just curious. We need to open up the pools. There is no reason to have the pools closed.

      • avatar
        John Salvino

        Suppose it’s Trials swimmers. Doesn’t that make sense? Or National swimmers? It’s going to be difficult for them and all of us. I’m supportive.

      • avatar
        Robert Barker

        No reason, except a deadly virus that’s spread by close human-to-human contact.

        Dead swimmers don’t make cuts and dead parents (and coaches) don’t train swimmers.

      • avatar

        Really? No reason? Can’t think of a single reason?

  2. I’m confused how he got the go ahead for this? Can the city approve this over the state’s rules? I’m just trying to figure out how this works since CA seems to be one of the stricter states on the distancing rules and how it could work for other pools in other areas of the country.

    • avatar
      Allen Wone

      Yes how did he get special permission

    • Jennifer Williams

      It is located in Orange County. The County that Governor Newsome is going after. The Sherrif is not enforcing. The county is standing up to the governor and thinking for themselves.

    • Peter Scott

      Jennifer Williams they like playing Russian roullette it seems……ironic isn’t it?stay safe?

    • Jennifer Williams

      Peter Scott so glad we can have an our own opinion. “Seems” is not a good enough reason for me. No outbreak traced to any pool, university or swim meet.

      • avatar

        Well said Jennifer Williams!

    • Peter Scott

      Jennifer Williams because they are shut……might have something to do with that don’t you think??stay safe?

    • Nick Ring

      Jennifer Philip Andrews waiting on the science that says that the virus is transmitting outdoors during recreational activities. All the data out of China is that the transmission primary occurred indoors in tight groups. The same shows here as well. Spreads like wildfire in nursing homes, hospitals and probably public transit/etc. No evidence it is transmitting outdoors or in pools. If the science exists showing this, I am very open minded and would love to review it.

    • Kimberly Joy

      Jennifer Philip Andrews No, they are not allowed to do this in violation of the state order. The county and cities can only eliminate the restrictions they placed that exceed the state’s order, in other words those that are tighter. This would be a violation.

      That said, I am glad they are defying the order in wish that more cities and counties would do it. It’s been long enough. People live and people die. That’s life. Everyone just needs to be as cautious as they can, wash their hands, and go about their lives

      • avatar

        Dumbest thought…”people live and people die” so viva the virus. Trump like insight.

    • Debbie Terry

      Jennifer Williams Governor Newsom is not “going after” Orange County. Schubert is risking lives. Anyone who has been an elite swimmer knows the influence a coach has. He is putting their lives at risk – per science. And why? So they can take a deadly virus home to grandpa?

      • avatar

        Schubert is not risking lives. Stop with the fear monger.

      • avatar
        Linda A.

        Debby Terry the coach is not risking lives. Read the article. Look at his protocols and measures he is taking to ensure social distancing. And in addition they are swimming in chlorinated water. This pool is owned by the city of Mission Viejo and the mayor is Brian Goodell, former Olympic gold swimmer. Pools in Southern California are outside in the fresh air and sunshine where UV rays kill the Coronavirus. My daughter is a competitive swimmer and has asthma and when her club reopens I will be comfortable letting her go back because I already know they will stagger practice times so that there is only one swimmer per lane and they will be 6-8 apart swimming in chlorinated water. Incidentally my daughter has been out of school since March 13 and she hasn’t seen a single friend, so I do take this seriously.

    • avatar

      The mayor is Brian Goodell

  3. Jennifer Williams

    This is great news and a good first step. Who will advocate for ALL of our swimmers?

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Jennifer Williams I wonder same thing. Like who did he contact for permission? I like to get permission from someone at USA Swimming for FMC in Chicago to start with elite level swimmers.

    • Jennifer Williams

      How about all the collegiate swimmers as well? Universities could definitely start a PHASE Two protocol. Unless I missed something we all need to remember that there has been no hot spot or outbreak at a pool, public school, college, or university. We need to unite and advocate for our swimmers.

  4. Leslie Cichocki

    Bring these restrictions to FMC in Chicago for elite level swimmers please. Great start there USA Swimming.

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Lynette Besonday-Washburn I wish the same in Willowbrook, Illinois.

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Lynette Besonday-Washburn even if it’s just elite level swimmers ranging from trials to pro series.

    • Kim Gordon

      Karin Knudson O’Connell perfect, lets go!!

  5. Liz Hughes

    Teri DeRosier Saw this today…

  6. Cindy Murphy

    This doesn’t seem fair for all the other swim clubs in CA…

  7. avatar
    Rhisa Gibbs

    Great job, getting our Olympic hopefuls back into the pool with fantastic, well thought out protocols. The phased approach is what has been required towards reopening.
    This is what makes you great, Coach, and why athletes have relied on your coaching to fulfill their Olympic dreams for 40 years.

  8. Kacey Greg Ramos

    Barbara Lightfoot-Nielsen Dave David Stewart Breanna Schafer Grace Anne Jamie Fussell

  9. Rob Richardson

    Why doesn’t MV share their proposal will all USA Swimming clubs? So we can all get back into the water?

    • avatar
      Andy Seibt

      They already did! You just need to read the article, not just the headline!

  10. avatar
    Michael Heather

    It is very good that some could get into the water after so long dry, but it is a very sad commentary on our society that so many are consumed with “being safe” instead of being free citizens. Ben Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” he was more accurate then he could have known.

    • avatar

      I like that!

    • Mick Aguilar

      Laura Mendez Berry that pool water looks very inviting

    • Mick Aguilar

      Laura Mendez Berry I hope you brought something shiny home with you?

    • Mick Aguilar

      Laura Mendez Berry lol…my comment went to the wrong place.

  11. Kimberly Joy

    How is that? Illegal under the state order….

  12. Kimberly Joy

    The restrictions are ridiculous and all pools should be allowed to open immediately. This has gone way too far

  13. Lisa Ernsberger

    This creates a huge inequity for our swimmers, when we can’t all get in the water at the same time!

    • Jennifer Bedore

      Julie Cowan this works with their city. There are many factors involved with their reopening. We have many plans too that are very similar but it is not time for our city…

  14. avatar

    Nice….but how do you do that with a club team of over 200 swimmers?

    • avatar

      I believe only their Elite swimmers are allowed. So far I heard only 18 swimmers.

  15. Ilse Modene

    I think it’s awesome but Am I the only one who does not get these exceptions what club can and who cannot start swimming again?

  16. Natalie Hayes Ward

    So glad they could get back into the pool and hopefully other teams can use these ideas too.

  17. Leslie Cichocki

    USA Swimming will hopefully be spreading these strict all clubs across the country soon ? can’t wait until the elite swimmers get return to the water.

    • Julie Grigar

      Leslie Cichocki hoping for us in Texas that’s it’s not just the elite….that’s hardly not fair…my opinion ??‍♀️

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Julie Grigar Elite would be like trial qualifiers, pro series, sectional and national team swimmers. The point is not to have 200 or 400 swimmers returning at the same time otherwise it will be harder to follow social distancing rules and to spread into smaller groups that’s why I recommend those who go to state or regionals to hold off because those meets are the most crowded.

  18. avatar
    Mark Pellet

    Thanks for using some common sense
    Lets put our heads together for good

  19. David Moreno

    That’s good for way smaller teams but what about a club team with 200 swimmers?

    • Brooke Lee

      David Moreno Nadadores are definitely not a small team, it’s a start for them ?

    • David Moreno

      Brooke Lee yes I am aware since I live in Los Angeles. ? It seems like it was only the highest level swimmers that workout. The article never states the WHOLE club is working out.

    • Brooke Lee

      David Moreno you’re right the whole club is not working out. The highest group is, as a starting point. ?

    • David Moreno

      Brooke Lee Nice start for the Olympic hopefuls.

    • avatar
      Mike Cooley

      200 swimmers clubs may be seen anymore in this day and age. Just like college football. They may not have 300 to 500 on the team dressing room at the same.

  20. Todd Meyer

    So grateful.. hopefully others can follow. Put the higher groups in… my kids started when little too but there are timing issues now and college scholarships on the line. The Little’s will have time.

  21. avatar

    Strongly disagree when the whole world is in stay home or semi stay home order.
    If we will all start doing this then it will be a world of rebelling and not a world of safety.i miss the pool too but when a major event like the OLYMPICS is canceled and when we still dont know much about the virus I find it at least irresponsible.
    I respect of course the coaching ability and the freedom of each human but I am sorry I am not up with this cause its something that has killed 2 young friends of mine in italy and I wont agree with not following .
    Sorry coach

  22. avatar
    Mike Cooley

    Thank you Mark S. for showing us away to open pools. If their a will there’s a way.

  23. Leslie Cichocki

    I think this article has been shared three times already.

  24. avatar

    Great job coach. Btw, other teams around the world are doing the same. Eg in Germany some teams have been following the same approach for 2 weeks now.

  25. avatar
    Aby Betten

    I love how the fear mongers go right to “dead kids! dead coaches!” — they’re social distancing and surrounded by chlorine. You are in more danger at Costco. (And even then, not really)

    Congrats to MV for being level-headed