Swimmers from New Jersey Petition Governor to Reopen Pools

Photo Courtesy: Andy Moss

Two high school swimmers from New Jersey have started a petition to Governor Phil Murphy to reopen pools in the state.

Jerry Zheng and Andy Moss, both high school sophomores, are teammates at Somerset Hills YMCA. They posted the petition to change.org earlier this week and as of Thursday afternoon have gotten close to 7,700 signatures.

“Across the state, thousands of talented swimmers have lost the feel for the water, which is essential for our sport,” the swimmers write. “Once swimmers stop training for more than two weeks, they begin to lose their aerobic endurance and thus performance decreases dramatically as time goes on.”

Zheng and Moss also include a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on transmission risk of COVID-19 in water and USA Swimming’s guidelines.

We do understand that we need to take safety precautions seriously as well as practice social distancing during our practices. Here is USA Swimming’s Guidance to how this could safely work. Please trust the maturity of competitive athletes: we are focused and serious and responsible. If you grant us the privilege to return to swimming we will not disappoint you or the people of New Jersey. Perhaps swimming pools across the state used for training could be open for competitive swimmers to train until there is full public access.

We appreciate everything the government is doing to keep people safe, however the government should trust serious swimmers like us to return to the pools in a responsible way. Our mental and physical health depends on it.

The petition was featured on Fox News Thursday, leading to a surge in signatures.

According to New Jersey government data, the state has seen 150,399 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10,747 deaths as of Thursday. Somerset County, where the boys’ team is based, is on the low end for the state but still gravely impacted with 4,349 cases and 384 deaths. Somerset County reported 36 new cases in the latest data.

Where swimming pools fall in the New Jersey reopening plan remains a question. The three-step “Road Back” states that “outdoor recreation (e.g., hiking) and beach visits allowed with social distancing” are permitted in Stage 1. It’s likely that swimming pools would require reaching at least Stage 2, which allows “more activities with proper safeguards, capacity limitations and sanitation protocols.” New Jersey’s COVID-19 frequently asked questions don’t provide much more guidance on the issue of pools beyond differentiating the issue of safety in the water and risks for transmission outside of the pool (such as community transmission or infected surfaces).

A similar petition was launched Thursday by another swimmer, Jacob Sherman, from Stamford, Connecticut.

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. Jason Barnard

    Does this sort of standing in close proximity at the end of the lane follow the USA Swimming Guidelines?! What about all those bodies crammed under those tents that are definitely closer than 6′ apart?! Come on Swimming World!!!

    • David Eldridge

      Jason Barnard it’s obviously an old picture but what bothers me is the petition was started by kids from SHY but somehow a small club , NJRC has their kids pictured at the top of this swimming world article. Swimming world Give the credits to SHY by posting the correct images !!!

    • Jeannine Juskalian

      David Eldridge who cares who the picture is about as long as the pools open. I’m a parent of a almost jr and he has been swimming since 2nd grade and these governors are killing there training. There not gonna get this stupid virus and most parents will sign a waiver. If your afraid stay in for the rest of your life see what that does to your immune system

      • avatar

        You are right,,,especially outdoor pools,,chlorine kills all ,,that’s why it’s used ,,no reason for them not to open ? The governors are flexing a little too many power muscles !!!!!!!!

    • David Eldridge

      Jeannine Juskalian your opinion about the picture, maybe you’re from NJRC but they should not be pictured at all !!
      I agree about the Governors and I have kids in the same boat. I’m not sure if you are talking to me about being afraid and stay home but if you are you don’t know me and or have any clue what I’m about

    • Jeannine Juskalian

      David Eldridge I’m not. Never heard of them I just want pools open don’t care how it happens

    • Jeannine Juskalian

      David Eldridge no the guy before you yelling at swimming world about how close they are

  2. Russ Psenicska

    Here in PA our governor won’t even let us get a haircut, we’re hoping to swim by fall.

    • Jeannine Juskalian

      Russ Psenicska I’m hoping this jackass let’s my kid swim by July in pa or I think I’m gonna have to stomp on his head

  3. Jess Stevenson

    Andreas Roestenberg check the picture but the article is different.

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