Three Leagues in Philadelphia Area Cancel Summer Swimming Seasons

Photo Courtesy: Sheila Himes

Three leagues in suburban Philadelphia, comprising 38 clubs and several thousand swimmers, have decided to cancel their summer swimming seasons this week due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The leagues, which unite annually for an Elite Meet (which had previously been cancelled), have been the starting point for Olympians like Brendan Hansen and Shane Ryan and International Swimming Hall of Fame coach Peter Daland.

The Suburban Swim League announced its cancellation Wednesday by a unanimous board vote. Its league includes 14 clubs stretched across Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties.

Part of the complication for the SSL stemmed from Pennsylvania’s reopening plan, which seeks to open for business on a county-by-county basis. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties remain in the “red phase,” which include the most severe restrictions on movement and business. Were one county to move into the “yellow phase” and resume some operations ahead of the others, it would have been problematic for scheduling. The operation of swim meets will likely be impossible until those counties reach the “green phase,” which might not happen this summer.

A day later, the Delaware County Swim League and Intra-County League followed suit. The Delco Swim League covers 18 teams, and the Intra-County League includes six. From the Delco League’s statement to clubs, sent by league president Steve Talley:

Let me first say, this was not an easy decision to make, but we feel it is the right decision. We took everything into account and in the end, prioritizing the health and safety of our kids, parents, and the pool staff is our first goal. By withdrawing the season, this gives swim clubs the chance to prioritize their re-open, as we hopefully move into the Yellow Phase, and focus on its financial and public health. I want to remind you, not all clubs will be able to open this season; we are hoping every swim club can sustain in these complicated financial times.   

Thus far, only one club, the Delco League’s Aldan Swim Club, has announced plans not to open for the 2020 season, though it will look to open in 2021. Many clubs, which are community-based and rely on membership, could open in some form, though they will miss their regular opening date of Memorial Day because of state restrictions.

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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2 years ago

We understand the safety measures needed to keep everyone safe but we are going to miss the energy and excitement of summer swimming and most importantly the teammates. #SSL

2 years ago

Sadly the result of this will be more Drownings (all ages) at open water (rivers, lakes, parks, etc) areas…