YMCA of Central Florida to Disband Competitive Teams Indefinitely due to COVID-19, 22 Clubs Affected

YMCA International Aquatic Center Orlando
The YMCA International Aquatic Center in Orlando. Photo Courtesy: YMCA Aquatic Center

The YMCA of Central Florida competitive aquatic sports have been disbanded indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida has been hit harder than most states during the pandemic and the YMCA made the decision to discontinue the competitive programs at the 22 YMCA of Central Florida locations. That includes swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.

“This decision was just about the aquatic teams and has nothing to with the aquatic centers themselves. They will likely re-open as soon as it is safe to do so, but the teams will not be a part of it,” YMCA of Central Florida District Executive Director Mike Brady told Swimming World.

Athletes will need to find new places to train, which is not an easy task with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on Florida.

The YMCA of Central Florida sent out an email to all coaches and participants that discussed the details.

“As a result of our assessment, it’s with heavy hearts that we inform you today that we won’t be able to bring back our YCF Aquatic Teams at any of our family centers for the foreseeable future until further notice,” the email reads. “We’re currently exploring the option of recreational level programs potentially being offered in the future, but we wanted to be as transparent and timely as possible with our competitive-level athletes so they can explore other program options outside of YCF. 

“We know this news comes as a deep disappointment which we share together with you. Our hope is that these programs may return sometime in the future if we have the capacity to offer them in a financially sustainable and safe manner with the level of quality they require.”

Brady said this is the decision for the foreseeable future, but is hoping it is not permanent.

“Definitely this was nothing that we wanted to do. The long and short of it is we are assessing what we can bring back in a safe way and fiscal way,” he said. “We are not ruling out the chance of brining these programs back in the future. We are trying to be as transparent as we could be to give people the opportunity to find somewhere else to train. We aren’t sure when and if we can re-open (the competitive programs).”

This decision does not affect the YMCA facilities themselves. Brady said those facilities will try to open when it is safe to do so.

“We are still working on a phased approach to bring the facilities back. But with everything going on, including staff furloughed since March, we don’t have the answer to how to bring (competitive teams) back,” he said. “Some of the stand-alone programs are opening cautiously. We have had lap swim by reservation in some of those, but even that is presenting some challenges, so how do we think we can bring back 30-40 kids safely? Like any business, we are trying to be as transparent as we can and serve our population as much as we can.”

The YMCA of Central Florida clubs include:

  • Avalon Park
  • Downtown Orlando
  • Golden Triangle
  • Osceola County
  • Rosen
  • Titusville
  • Blanchard Park
  • Dr. P. Phillips
  • J. Douglas Williams
  • Oviedo
  • South Orlando
  • Wayne Densch
  • Cocoa
  • Frank DeLuca
  • Lake Nona
  • Roper
  • Tangelo Park
  • Winter Park
  • South Lake
  • Horizon West

112 comments

    • Kevin Fallon

      Barb Martin Binkley and gather in large crowds for protests / marches

      Must be one smart virus to be able to pick and choose where it spreads

    • Mateo Golloshi

      Barb Martin Binkley just letting you know that bars have been ordered to close too (I think the order was done last week if I’m not mistaken)

      • avatar
        David

        Swimming won’t be the only sport cancelled. It’s hard to see any land sport other then tennis and golf that can be successfully. It sucks.

    • Kevin Fallon

      Barb Martin Binkley oh I totally agree with you 1000% …..I was being super sarcastic because there is so much nonsense going on with this

    • avatar
      toni Lavette

      Many of these Ymcas are not reopening! The Cocoa Y with there Olympic size pool is closed permanently along with a few others? This article is not 100% true.

    • avatar
      Sarah Tyler

      USA Swimming has clear, safe, workable plans to allow swim teams practise time. The Y could check it out. It is working othere places, even Arizona and Texas. This is heartbreaking for the swimmers, lazy on the part of the Y.

  1. Jenn Cheri

    Maybe teans can b o for and pillage in the water? That seems to not spread the virus. 😎

  2. Rob Duguay

    Looks like we’re going to need to coach the kids via an online coaching model similar to triathletes.

  3. Rebecca Lauterbach

    Complete BS! Please fight back people! If people can go to beaches, riot and protest then surely the kids should be able to swim! Stop the fear this is getting ridiculous!

  4. Gary Yaglenski

    All those families should leave the Y then they’ll rethink their position.

    • avatar
      Dan

      These Y aquatic center “decision makers” don’t care!

  5. Kathleen Cornelius

    I understand taking a year off but not indefinitely. Kids need an outlet. I feel bad for these kids

    • Kathleen Cornelius your thoughts is the most makes sense un comparison to the others comments. Is serious this virus, and the people with no IQ wasn’t responsible stay at home. Now is the consequences.

    • Jason Cronk

      Maria Del Pilar Pantall People with no IQ caused this? Wow

    • avatar
      Lola Forrester

      Yep key word, is fiscal.

  6. Clark Bickling

    Bad call. I understand that water is at a premium and the Y wants to rebuild their membership base, but swim teams bring in members AND program fees. Plus swimmers will take unpopular pool time (early AM, late night).

  7. So they say that they will open again but no teams. What is the logic? Members can lap swim and exercise but they are against practicing for the team. We need to demand more of our public officials.

  8. avatar
    Kurt W

    So all these facilities are just gunna sit there empty? What a joke.

    • Joel Dodds

      Worse than that, CFY is abandoning the facility at the campus formerly known as BCC (the team and pool Logan swam for/at). Years ago when BCC cut funding for their team, pool, and associated facilities, Central Florida Y came in and took over those resources. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of the pool being filled in or removed, and the land being used for a new classroom building for diversity studies.

    • Jenn Corb

      This is an excuse to get rid of teams. “How can we bring back 30-40 kids safely?” Maybe by taking a peak at all the USAS guidelines and following them like other clubs?!?!?!

    • Doug Schack

      Angela Cappellazzo It does. But when Fauci pulls a number out of thin air to “jolt” America. Where will you get the truth from. There are always “buts”. Chlorine kills it, BUT!…. These clowns don’t know.

      • avatar
        Aquaboss

        According to industry professionals, chlorine is guaranteed to kill viruses in the coronavirus family on a kick board or other similar materials in under 30 minutes. Not instantly.

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Thanks Aquaboss. Important to add that, with any chlorine, in pools in general and on equipment etc, ‘guarantee’ comes with no guarantee because the efficacy of chlorine depends on the prevailing circumstances: if a small pool is full of folk who entered the water straight from a day on the trail, running, jogging cycling, bit of beach volleyball etc – without showering – the efficacy of the chlorine will be significantly reduced by the ‘amount of effort/work’ the chlorine present has to do straight up. In similar but more extreme circumstance, one kid having an accident requires a pool (at all times nit just because of any particular virus) to be cleared immediately because the efficacy of the chlorine is compromised in a critical way.

  9. Sarah De

    😱 Omg, that’s arguably my son’s teams largest competitor. We are in that pool several times a year. It is muggy and stale in there, and the only time there is fresh air is when you’re sitting up near the top windows in the back, that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a breeze- usually in January or February the air circulates up there well. But wow!

    Eta– This is one I didn’t see coming. If there is a YCF parent/family on this page, I’d love to hear what your plans are and how you’re taking this.

    • avatar
      Swim Parent

      Hi! I am a parent. You know what stinks the most? Absolutely no communication whatsoever from the coaches. Nothing. We’ve been left in the dark about this for months now. I find it heartbreaking that they are looking to bring recreational swim back BUT are throwing out the competitive teams.

      • avatar
        Jennifer

        Are you sure the coaches knew this fate? It says all staff was furloughed back in March. It sounds like this was just decided. They may have gotten the same “no notice” also. They lost their jobs at a very hard time to be a full-time coach. Has anyone made contact with them? Were you in contact in March-May as a team?

      • avatar
        Anna Bicicleta

        My guess is the coaches themselves were left in the dark.

      • avatar
        Lola Forrester

        Yes, the coaches were left in the dark. This article is misleading though. The Aquatic Center will reopen, but under new management. It will no longer be a Y, thank goodness! You can’t imagine that the largest swim facility in the Southeast can stay close like this for more than a year, right? This same thing happened back in 1992. A lot of these businesses are using Covid as an excuse. The YMCA is all about $$$$$. Good riddance to them.

    • Toni L Lavette

      Sarah De This article is BS! A few of these Ymcas are not financially sound and not reopening
      Cocoa Ymca
      Rosen Center/ Aquatic Center
      Not about Covid
      This is so heartbreaking 😡
      Jeff Girten

    • Sarah De

      Toni L Lavette I realize that. They were also rehabbing part of Rosen the past year (small stuff, bathrooms) and we assumed more improvements to the pool area would come next since we were told face to face by Admins there at meets that they were making it “more comfortable for spectators and athletes” (not sure you’ve been, but their bathroom situation for spectators had become a nightmare in the past 2 years). 🤔 If they’ve known about these problems (this stuff doesn’t happen overnight), why would they say that to people? ☹️

    • Toni L Lavette

      Sarah De The Cocoa Ymca has a beautiful Olympic size pool and for the last 2 years we have been fighting to keep it open, Covid came along and there’s your excuse to close down
      Aquatic Center , Cocoa and few others every year never came close to making budget.

    • Sarah De

      Toni L Lavette Sarasota Y was having trouble a year or so ago, too… At least one location was at risk of being shut down. They have a beautiful pool too, but our location doesn’t compete down there anymore for some reason.

  10. Sean Judge

    What a tragedy. A terrible and extremely hurtful indictment of a needlessly botched response to the worst global pandemic in 100 years. I hope that when we are able to recover to the new normal, we can make this right with our kids. Stay safe, wear a mask, stay apart and Godspeed to everyone.

    • Paula Alford

      Hmm…A needlessly botched response? 🤔 Guess then .the whole world “botched this one then.?” All those other pandemics were and future ones will be handled perfectly though ..so never fear. .🙄 And in the meantime, am sure “our children” will welcome all efforts to “make it right with them.” 🙄😂

      • avatar
        Sasha

        Hopefully some of you understand that the pandemic is far worse in the U.S. than elsewhere because of the attitudes displayed in this thread.

  11. Cheri Wood

    I feel your pain. We are over in the UK and our club runs out of a YMCA pool which they are mothballing with no date of reopening if ever. 45yrs our club has been going. They should be ashamed 👎

  12. avatar
    Mary

    This is ridiculous. We’ll be quitting the Y immediately.

  13. avatar
    Clay Parnell

    Everyone must understand what exactly is going on here. This is nothing more than a business decision using the COVID-19 as an excuse to get rid of A program that does not make them enough money. Having to pay qualified coaches to run a program that uses up a lot of pool time and space is not profitable enough for the YMCA. They can make a higher profit running recreational competitive swimming programs using $10 an hour coaches. I’m sure they will still rent the pool out to high school and college teams and want to run all the big money swim meets though.

    Anyone in the Swimming business knows that the safest activity to run during this time is a competitive swim team. Nothing can be as controlled as that particularly in a chlorinated environment.

    As usual the wonderful nonprofit YMCA goes for the money.

  14. Jane Meltzer

    Maybe if Florida had a Governor who took it seriously from Day 1 this would have been avoided.

    • Sarah Harris

      Claire Kennedy yes Claire, Lizzie’s team have had to make some changes but all currently still good. Really sad to hear this news though that will obviously affect many swimmers x

  15. Robert Hayon

    Isn’t this pool owned by Roudy Gaines? If I am wrong sorry, but I can’t imagine he would go along with this

    • Jan Miller

      Robert Hayon my understanding is that he’s on the Board of Directors but he doesn’t own the pool. The Rowdy Gains Masters Classic is there every October.

    • avatar
      Jen

      Yes. We were at a stroke clinic last fall with him at the Aquatic Center. My kid just moved up to competitive in January. She’s devastated.

  16. John Ian Bobbitt

    I don’t even have a witty or sarcastic response to this. If not for the YMCA’s youth swimming program, I never would have made swimming my sport, or advanced to USS, or collegiate level.

    If not for swimming, I never would have got the scholarship that paid for college, and my degree, and the life I have now….

    It’s come to this? And why swimming? Of all sports? This is BS. Someone in Florida go over to the Y and smack the s*** out of someone in charge. I got your bail money

    • Toni L Lavette

      John Ian Bobbitt my daughter swam here 8 years and received 4 yr ride to DU
      This is not about Covid
      It’s about $$$$$$$$

    • Sarah De

      Toni L Lavette It is about Covid though… extrapolate deeper behind the article. Had they not spent too much somewhere else (to say mismanage funds would be insinuating something more sinister that I’m not going to do), then they’d have enough to keep it running. This has been seen everywhere… overextended budgets pre Covid, little cushion for a rainy day- so businesses cutting programs, staff, what-have-you, because they don’t plan well enough for emergencies (not that anyone could see this one coming).

      It’s a nice facility compared to many, and always enjoyed meets there because they’re so large. Just a shame this is happening.

  17. Jennifer Brurok

    Ridiculous!!!! Talk to practicing physicians instead of politicians and “Public Health” officials who are all in the political pockets!!! This is just so stupid!!! On our way to total socialism😡

  18. avatar
    Adam

    This will cost the ymca. I guarantee that competitive teams bring in the memberships for for the ymca, not the other way around.

    It’s too bad. They won’t realize the error until it’s too later and whatever director/s made this decision will be out a job.

  19. avatar
    John N.

    This decision is wrong and very sad, especially when the numbers show that according to the CDC kids 0-17 years old make up only 4% of the cases and 0% of the deaths. Kids need structure and a good outlet to get away from it all, and athletics is the perfect outlet. This short term decision is going to have negative long term affects on these kids.

  20. avatar
    Mary Tindall

    I’m a parent at one of these Ys. My boys are devastated. The Y abruptly ended their practice (no chance to say goodbye) then strung us along for 3.5 months with vague implications they’d restart in the fall. Another commenter nailed it: This was a financial decision and Covid was just the excuse. The team was never a priority for the Y. Come on, they can hold summer camps but can’t practice in chlorinated water? Sorry, I don’t buy it. This was epically mishandled, and our kids are collateral damage. What a shame.

    • avatar
      Jen

      Same here. My kid just bumped up to competitive in January. Not sure where we’ll go now, but we have to go somewhere.

  21. Sheri Thompson

    😡😡😡😡😡😡😡
    Children are suffering consequences of unhealthy, SAD eating, Americans with underlying health conditions.
    I want my children’s childhood back.
    I want it back NOW!

  22. Lori C Taylor

    Good. Bye to anyone who swims for the YMCA who wants to swim in the Olympics

    • Sarah De

      Lori C Taylor A lot of kids just really love to swim without Olympic dreams, and the Y is their outlet. Y offers some of the most affordable swimming for kids/families, especially in metro areas. This is a big loss to many.

    • Lori C Taylor

      Sarah De my 3 kids started swimming shortly after watching the 1st of Phelps Olympics. 1 still swims for the YMCA. 2 for other clubs. 2 had pre Olympic trial times for the Omaha Cup. The YMCA needs to know they can build dreams or tear them down. Fitness classes might pay. But the youth of America need an outlet. The YMCA has closed a dream

    • Lori C Taylor

      I fight for my kids right. To swim. Will the parents there. Petition the YMCA. Petition the government. Stand up for your kids

  23. Lori C Taylor

    My son swims for a YMCA In Wichita. He has gone to Jr nationals 2 years In college don’t destroy the sport for the kids

  24. Yu Dong

    It’s shameful that there are many other unsafe practices and businesses are allowed to reopened globally.

  25. Disband… Can they do that? When children need their normal this is cruel. Baseball found a way, why can’t the swimmer leadership find theirs.

  26. Steve Cox

    People need to stand up. This is ridiculous.

  27. Jeff Girten

    This is the central Florida YMCA associations scape goat. They are using the COVID situation to close several of their YMCAs and reduce the backlash. These plans have been in the works for years. Someone posted that they heard face to face with the administration that they had meets and would reopen!! That is their typical way of doing things. They say it when questioned face to face and then hide in their offices with their fat salaries while they close needed YMCAs. These people should be ashamed of themselves but they don’t care.
    Toni L Lavette

  28. Brianna Loraine

    This is devastating news. My heart goes out to all of the athletes.

  29. avatar
    Melea Desrochers

    Not only were the teams disbanded…but the Aquatic Center itself will not be reopening to my understanding.
    If it is safe to swim in a recreational pool or at a hotel pool…why is it not safe to swim in a professionally maintained aquatic center?
    Some of the other sports may be able to find new facilities…but there are no other Diving Facilities anywhere near this area.
    My daughter was so excited to get back to Water Polo.

  30. avatar
    Kevin

    YMCA needs to walk the walk or modify their mission, core values, etc…don’t hide behind COVID. If changes need to be made, take a deliberate, respectful, and transparent approach that deals honestly with families and the community.

    Our Purpose Defines Us

    The Y is the leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community by connecting all people to their potential, purpose and each other. Working locally, we focus on empowering young people, improving health and well-being and inspiring action in and across communities.

    Swimming

    Swimming is a life skill as well as great exercise and a challenging sport. Ys offer swim lessons for all ages, family swim, competitive swimming and diving teams, and many kinds of adaptive swim programs for kids with special needs, so we can all safely enjoy the pleasures of an aquatic environment.

  31. avatar
    Griselle

    So unnecessary!!

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