More States Reopen Pools, but Confusion, Hesitance Still Linger

SW May 2020 - A Voice For The Sport - Diving In During Dire Times - John Lohn - Empty MCDS Pool

In many states, the question of how and when to reopen swimming pools is becoming clearer. But the issue remains up in the air elsewhere, especially on the coasts.

One enduring point of contention as swimming stakeholders have pushed for pool reopening is the issue of how to classify pools. That was the subject of an open letter this week to the Trump administration, and it remains a matter of confusion in some states.

In New Jersey, for instance, Gov. Phil Murphy relaxed restrictions on many activities, including professional sports, Tuesday. But pools remain, in his words, “complicated.” From Tuesday’s press conference:

Outdoor pools are still on the list. They’re a little bit more complicated. When I first started talking about outdoor pools, I had in mind, out of the shore community, mayors and county executives, a legitimate suggestion from a couple of them that if you loosen up pool restrictions, you also give yourself more space in which to spread your capacity, which makes sense. The problem is that you’ve got a municipal pool that is far from the shore that has a very different dynamic. So I would say it’s on the list but I’ve got no news to report on that.

Maryland had endured similar confusion over its plans for weeks. But this week, it announced that pools can reopen Friday evening at 25 percent capacity, with social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures. The state is also requiring sign-in and sign-out from anyone using pools. A petition to reopen pools in the state has garnered close to 5,000 signatures, but areas in the Washington D.C. suburbs remain the last holdouts.

In Delaware, which will not enter Phase 1 of its recovery until June 1, pools remain closed with uncertainty over when they can open. That has inspired one swimmer, Delaware Swim Team member Kyle Skelly, to start a petition to Gov. John Carney asking “that you trust us serious swimmers to return to the pools in a responsible way.”

Nevada will allow pools to open Friday as it enters Phase 2 of its recovery. Pools, along with other public gathering spots, will reopen at 50 percent capacity.

West Virginia released a plan on how to reopen its pools as part of Week 5 of its “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback.” It doesn’t, however, specific exact limits on how many/what percentage of occupancy pools can accommodate. Tennessee, which has permitted more local control on the part of counties with departments of health, also released overarching guidelines for pool safety.



Opening pools is one matter. How people feel about taking the personal risk, which is low but non-zero, to use those facilities is another issue. Many pools in Iowa, for instance, have pushed back opening dates despite getting the go-ahead to resume. MassLive covered one popular swimming destination in Amherst, Massachusetts, that was mostly empty despite being open. Citing financial risk, particularly over the question of insurance, some of the homeowner associations in South Carolina that operate community pools are opting not to open.

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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  1. Spencer Pinter

    They will all figure it out as they go. Let it rip!! Life is a series of experiments, which pretty much all involve some level of calculated risk. Only time will tell what types of results will come from the experiments that are now starting to take place that involve getting swimmers back into their pools with their teams, but moving forward is a necessary step in the process. 🤓🤓🤓

    • Sandy Riddell Wagner

      I wonder how those young folks will feel when they take the virus back to their families? Would you willingly give up one of your family member’s life for time in the pool?

    • Sandy Riddell Wagner Hopefully they will recover as 99% have done. (or close to that, not sure of exact percentage today)

    • Spencer Pinter

      Sandy Riddell Wagner – The experiments have commenced. With life, come risks. If you fear life outside of your home, you have every right to stay home. I am certain that there will be answers to your inquiries in the coming months. 😁😁😁

  2. Spencer Pinter

    Does anyone know where the pool in this photo is located? Very nice looking facility!!

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