New York High School Swimming Gets Go-Ahead to Start Season

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Photo Courtesy: Dr. Robert Zayas Twitter (@RobertZayasNY)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday allowed lower-risk sports like high school swimming to proceed as soon as mid-September.

Swimming is categorized among the lower- and moderate-risk sports, along with tennis, golf, soccer, cross country and field hockey. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has set its soonest start date for the 2020-21 season at Sept. 21. Lower-risk sports can start official practices then, with competition to begin soon after, if the COVID-19 conditions in the state and individual regions allows.

Competition would have to remain local, with contests between regions barred until at least Oct. 19. The NYSPHSAA has already cancelled state championships in the fall to reduce travel.

“The State has done a lot of research on how we can safely have our students participate in school sports and get the exercise they need, and the guidance we developed will allow lower-risk sports to begin practicing and playing next month,” Cuomo said in a press release. “We are approaching youth sports as we have approached everything else in our phased reopening – teams are not allowed to compete outside a school’s region or contiguous region for the time being until we can gauge the effects.”

Girls high school swimming is a fall sport in New York, with boys swimming over the winter. Among the fall sports not approved to start are football and girls volleyball, plus winter sports like wrestling and hockey. Football and volleyball can begin practices Sept. 21, but there’s no date for interscholastic contests to begin.

Monday’s announcement from Cuomo is intended as guidance, that bodies like the NYSPHSAA will take to refine their recommendations.

“We’re doing this in phases,” Cuomo said in a press conference. “We want to see what the effect is. We want to see how it works.”

High school swimming competition in New York will proceed at a limited facility capacity of no more than 50 percent. No more than two spectators per player are allowed. Social distancing and face covering provisions will apply.

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