YMCA of Central Ohio Cancels Competitive Swimming For 2020-21 Season

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The YMCA of Central Ohio has announced it is cancelling all competitive swimming for the 2020-21 season at their metropolitan YMCAs. Swimmers will not be allowed to practice, let alone swim at meets. High school swim teams at YMCAs in Central Ohio will be affected as well, as this will be a huge blow to the sport in a large city like Columbus. High school teams regularly use YMCA facilities for practice and meets.

The YMCA of Central Ohio follows the decision made by the YMCA of Central Florida, which cancelled its swim season as well. When that decision was handed down, there was worry it would cause a ripple effect elsewhere. Many of our readers did not believe that the correct decision was made.

The teams affected: Delaware Riptides, Liberty/Powell Penguins, North YMCA Waves, Gahanna YMCA Gators, Garver & Ward YMCA East Tridents, Pickaway Piranhas, Grove City Manta Rays, Hilltop Poseidons, Hilliard Hurricanes and Hilliker Heat.

Below is the official letter obtained by Swimming World that was sent to families in the YMCA of Central Ohio sent July 23, 2020

Dear Swim Team Families,

Responding to the impacts of COVID-19 has been a challenging time for our Y and the people we serve including closing facilities and programs. We have deeply appreciated the understanding and cooperation of our community members, members, families and participants.

As we have reopened facilities and programs, it has been through the lenses of health & safety, organizational readiness and financial capacity. We want to provide as many services and amenities as possible in a safe and responsible way.

It became clear that managing our competitive swimming program while balancing the criteria of health & safety, organizational readiness and financial capacity would prove to be difficult. After careful deliberation, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel our competitive swim program at this time. It is with a heavy heart that we share this information with you as we do not take this type of decision lightly.

While this is a difficult decision, we believe it is in the best interest of our communities at this time.

The safety of our swimmers and member families continue to be at the forefront of all of our decisions around YMCA operations.

We are committed to serving our communities with a safe and high quality swimming program, and will revisit this opportunity when it is safe and responsible to do so.

In the spirit of our movement,

Tony Collins
President and CEO


  1. Amy Monard Wasson

    Ridiculous. They are swimming in bleach. Practices can be run while social distancing, and meets are starting to be run with success, while following social distancing rules, etc.

    • Melanie Minobe

      Amy Monard Wasson except when they are standing on the deck talking with their friends, sitting on the bleachers talking with their friends, dressing and undressing in mass in the locker rooms.

      • avatar

        Coaches had a safety plan on deck for social distancing, wearing masks, etc. Plus there would have been no locker room usage.

    • Doug Schack

      Amy Monard Wasson or don’t social distance. Covid has very low fatality rate in these age groups, literally on par or lower than the flu. This virus is not magical nor does it have supervillain powers. We need to recalibrate our risk/reward meters!!!!

    • Amy Monard Wasson

      Melanie Minobe which is why I stated about social distancing at practice and at meets. Swim teams can effectively social distance at both. We have had a couple meets near us in the last couple weekends, and swimmers are all sitting 6 ft apart, awaiting their events, no parents or spectators are in the building, etc.

    • Amy Monard Wasson

      Melanie Minobe also locker rooms are closed, bathrooms limited to one person at a time, etc.

    • Melanie Minobe

      Amy Monard Wasson I think that is great 👍🏽. Where I live in IN given the size of meets, the social distancing would be hard to do unless a 3-day swim meet is spread over more than 1 weekend or meets are limited to duals only.

    • John Mcleod

      Amy Monard Wasson being in chlorinated water is not going to be the saving grace for this sport. Everything outside of that water needs to be adapted to newer guidelines that promote health & safety. People need to realize we use much more than water in this sport (changerooms, water fountains, team travel at hotels, team meals, etc)

      • avatar

        Water fountains? Team meals? Really? You honestly think those minor things (that can be eliminated) should keep these kids from competing? Pretty sure swimming and Golf are the safest sports right now. If schools can play football, this then seems extreme

    • Amy Monard Wasson

      Melanie Minobe well, this is just so far done with intrasquad meets. But, with USA Swimming now allowing times to be counted for all qualifying standards in the month of Aug, there will be dual meets, and possibly a larger meet. It would definitely have to be spread out more, i would think. We have a dual meet coming up next month, and they are doing 12 and unders one weekend, and 13 & up the next weekend. But, that has more to do with the member hours at the facility, i believe.

    • Amy Monard Wasson

      John Mcleod I don’t think there will be any big invitational meets for awhile. I think adapting to the necessary guidelines can be done, but it will take more brain power and man power to make it happen.

    • John Mcleod

      Amy Monard Wasson I’m not sure many people are focused on events yet, focus is on training and how to get teams in safely

    • Amy Monard Wasson

      John Mcleod yes, not all teams have even started back training. I was just stating that meets are slowly starting back up and so far, what I have heard, is that the social distancing, etc outside of the water went well. Although, it is not at all like the swimmers are used to. No sitting in a group with all your friends, no parents inside to cheer them on, etc.

    • David Moreno

      Amy Monard Wasson For some reason Central Ohio population dependence on the YMCA programs is big. If the Y is the hub for hundreds of thousands people it might be that impossible to run a swimming season at al. If they did accommodate all those swimmers for meets and practices, then what about the public usage? It seems they made the decision what was helpful for the whole public and I’m sure they have people over there saying the same thing you are saying.

    • avatar

      I agree. Swimming is the safest place these kids and others could be. Swimming in chlorine. You don’t have to sanitize anything. The kids do it every time they come out of the pool wet. All you need is a life guard who gets to sit in a chair farther than 6ft away

    • Kathryn Newberry

      Amy Monard Wasson I have not been able to get my son or myself into a pool since March! 😭

  2. Julie Tellier

    I’m confused thru 2021?? We swim year round so I guess I don’t know when the season ends. But not competing for the next 18 months seems presumptuous and excessive!

    • John Mcleod

      Julie Tellier i didn’t see any reference to « through 2021 » but the article does mention « 2020-2021 season » which historically is September to August. So 12 months it seems.

    • Tony Trefoil

      End of April is one and beginning of September….

    • Julie Tellier

      Heather Underwood ok, now it makes sense. It still sucks though

  3. avatar

    It is rumored that ymca central ohio wanted to phase out their swim programming there. The decision was made without coaches opinions and input. This was just their excuse. I will be surprised if they bring it back next year. It is a shame that swimming is always the easiest to cut 🙁

  4. Jennifer Osorio Cvelic

    That’s crazy and I’m so glad our Y is still swimming and doing a great job with distancing at all times!

    • Heather Underwood

      yes our y started a 3 day a week socially distanced season last week…its working great…our kids are so glad to be back in the water…seeing their faces at the end of practice makes my heart happy! they are broke into small groups, 2 kids in a lane at a time, 30 mins for the younger kids and 45 for the older…luckily for my kids i have 2 younger swimmers (8 and 11) so they can practice in same lane together and they dont have to worry so much about the distancing…it can work!…kids go in front door with masks, have temp taken, then hit the water…leave out the back door so they dont mingle with the next group…parents have to wait outside…not using any equipment right now so they dont have to worry about sanitizing a ton of stuff…im so glad we have such dedicated coaches and y members

      • avatar
        Amy Louwers

        What Y are you swimming at?

    • Jennifer Osorio Cvelic

      Heather Underwood sounds like ours. They lane assign and temp check. It seems to work well!

    • Heather Underwood

      hey anything to get them in the water was my thought!! my 8 year old was really having a hard time not being in the water…she swims 10 months out of the year

    • Jennifer Osorio Cvelic

      Roxana Castellari we had our virtual meet yesterday! While we don’t have other teams there, they got times. And it’s better than nothing!!!

    • Roxana Castellari

      Jennifer Osorio Cvelic
      Yesterday I did the virtual Swim Miami Open water 5 K in the pool.
      Like a swimmer IT IS NOT THE SAME AT ALL.
      Obviously better than nothing, but it is not the same to call an open water when u swim in a pool.

    • Jennifer Osorio Cvelic

      Roxana Castellari I agree but the world isn’t the same. It just saddens me to see pools closing!

    • avatar
      Bob Jennings

      So am I and I believe we are doing it safely and it is working!

  5. Here’s the reason they cancel…coaches seriously don’t care. I’ve made it work for my Rec summer team. Yes, it’s more hours to get kids in, and the lane organization is never perfect. But the kids are worth it. They respect the rules and we practice. It can be done!!

    • avatar
      Amy Kuhns

      Coaches did not have a say. Coaches were ready to present a plan to administrators and were informed that the program was cut. Based on the sizes of the teams and the high school teams affected more than 1000 swimmers are impacted.

    • Amy Kuhns Barnhart

      Melissa Reeber Grosenstein Coaches did not have a say. Coaches were ready to present a plan to administrators and were informed that the program was cut. Based on the sizes of the teams and the high school teams affected more than 1000 swimmers are impacted.

    • Amy Kuhns Barnhart then they fight alongside with parents. It’s possible. Provide data. I am so passionate about the sport. I’m not willing to give up. I’m getting ready to fight for my HS team.

  6. Micaela Mazzocchi

    i have a son that is currently NOT swimming even if pools here are all outdoor and can be definitively safe and a daughter allowed to playing volleyball normally in a super crowded gym… I wonder whats the difference here $$$$ 🙄🙄

  7. Virginia Gusmao

    It’s really sad, all the swim teams in our area figured out safe ways to start practicing as soon state allowed with less pool capabilities that the Ymca. And somehow the Y couldn’t do it with the best facilities in the area.

  8. Kathy Neville Lemay

    My daughter’s team was one of the teams affected by this bad decision. It’s BS. They’ve wanted to cut the swim teams for years. They’re just using covid19 as a scapegoat. Using that excuse to make themselves not look so bad for giving us the axe.

    • avatar

      This article is understating the problem. It is not for one season. It is forever! The Central Ohio Y is using the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of a program they have not wanted for over 10 years. Shame on you YMCA and the management. You have let thousands of kids in Central Ohio down and without a place to swim. So much for the core values the YMCA seems to tout.

    • Lucy Lewis

      poor swimmers – the forgotten sport as always

  9. Tony Trefoil

    Please post your complaints. It will make the people change their minds.

  10. avatar
    Sue Blum

    Some large schools in Columbus with their own pools, hopefully something can be worked out with them for pool time for the high school kids at least. Such a loss.

  11. avatar

    We were told that the Central Ohio Y is canceling competitive competition FOREVER. Not just for the 20-21 season. This article is misleading. It is a much bigger issue than stated in the article.

  12. Beth McCormick Wolfe

    Not shocking, the YMCA as a whole seems to be falling away from the vision of supporting active youth and promoting family values. It used to be the place to go for youth sports. I guess they just want to be another gym. Disappointing.

    • Kathryn Newberry

      Yes… None of our local YMCA’S are open here, and likely will not be for several more weeks.

  13. Ronit Shraga

    My daughter swims in Austin, TX . 2 swimmers per lane , each starts in a different side of the pool

    • Lisa Bendall

      Ronit Shraga that’s what were doing in Virginia.

  14. Kerri Nancy

    this is stupid. seriously. more people die of the flu, cancer, and drugs or drink driving yet something as positive and healthy as swimming is being cancelled?! the world is upside down

  15. Julie Grigar

    And yet they’ve started Baseball season and there will be football season too….SMDH

  16. Michele Therrien Voner

    Swim team members are Y paying members plus they pay for team. This is garbage. You better not let one member use the pool then

  17. Lisa Ellsworth Kollin

    Don’t understand how swimming is so dangerous, but other sports aren’t. These swim families also pay for use of the pools! Something other sports aren’t doing. Such a disappointment they don’t want to understand the mental and health benefits people get from swimming and being part of a team.

  18. Our children’s life is important than the competition, you can’t postpone life but you can postpone competition

  19. avatar

    Our family is very disappointed with this decision. My daughter swam for the Delaware Riptides, so she is affected by this decision. Unfortunately for the Y, we will not be renewing our family membership when it comes up for renewal.

  20. Ryan Connell

    Excessive. Swimming is perfectly safe and athletes are extremely low risk.

  21. Dan Shupard

    I am sad for those kids. I understand the competitions. Travel can be eliminated, meets can be eliminated. Heck, virtual meets with intra–squad times works. Is the pool shut down to everyone, or can members swim if “distanced”?

  22. avatar

    Four months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Army pilots flew medium bombers off the deck of an aircraft carrier to bomb Tokyo. Because real Americans figure out how to solve problems even if it takes some unconventional thinking. We can easily figure out ways to get kids back in the water and swimming again even if we can’t everything we were doing before for a while. We owe it to the kids and all those coaches and everyone else that makes their livelihood from swimming.

    But, only if you want to do that, and there is a large part of YMCA leadership that doesn’t care. You know what they do care about? All the tax dollars that they get for child care programs. That’s where the YMCA makes its money and what generates the rather large salaries paid to people working for the national YMCA.

    I learned how to swim at a YMCA. Lots of other Americans have too, including quite a few Olympians. YMCA swimming has been one important part of swimming in America, but it’s not going to survive the reaction to COVID. And, American swimming will be much worse off because of that.

  23. Jill Decker Johnson

    Central Florida Y also did this and closed the best pools we had. They have people in charge who have no idea how to run a successful business.

  24. avatar

    Soccer, baseball, volleyball, football… all up and running. yet swimming where kids can be easily social distanced is not. This is really frustrating. Someone needs to come to their senses.

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