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July 2, 2021 - Message to Our Membership from the General Chair - 7/2/21

Dear Pacific Swimming Community Members,

In late December of 2020, I wrote to you that the end of the pandemic appeared to be in sight, that the State of California recognized swimming as a low-risk sport and we should be able to begin returning to normal when the Stay-at-Home order was lifted. It turned out that I was way too optimistic. It took an additional six months before California declared that masks were no longer required for outdoor sports and that the out-of-state travel ban was lifted for those participating in youth sports.

The California Department of Public Health and most California counties are now following the CDC guidelines. If you are vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask. If you are unvaccinated, you are expected to be compliant with recommendations and wear a mask indoors. Some organizations and school districts have added additional restrictions on top of their county and state orders, and we must follow the most restrictive orders. Until the vaccine is approved for 12-UN children, many vaccinated people may wish to continue wearing masks at indoor and outdoor public gatherings especially given the more transmissible and infectious variants in circulation.   

So are we back to normal? I think the best answer is not quite yet, but hopefully soon. Very similar to the mixed and confusing messages we were given at the start of the pandemic, we are currently getting mixed and confusing messages which vary from county to county. The COVID vaccines appear to be very effective against the original virus and many of the viral variants.  However, we are told that we have not reached the level of “herd immunity” and the threat of new, more infectious variants remain. I was also reminded that the pandemic is not “over” until it is “over everywhere”. We remain at risk as long as there are susceptible individuals which provide the virus a chance to continue to mutate.  

Pacific Swimming is planning on resuming a “normal” schedule of swim meets starting September 1st. I have been asked why we cannot simply “throw a switch” and resume normal operations immediately. The COVID pandemic had a significant impact on Pacific Swimming just as it did on the country as a whole. Our membership numbers are much lower than pre-pandemic.  Our member swim teams are each independent small businesses and just like many small businesses in California, some failed to survive the pandemic. Of those that did survive, a number are still unable to practice or continue to be restricted to reduced practice hours or reduced swimmers per practice lanes. Host teams for major swim meets such as Junior Olympics and Far Western meets typically require about six months of planning for them to successfully offer these meets. For all of these reasons, the “return to normal” is a process rather than simply “throwing a switch”.

Throughout the pandemic Pacific Swimming’s goal was to keep our membership safe and our official policy was to follow the guidance of the local public health officers. We will continue to do so. The territory of Pacific Swimming encompasses a number of counties, as well as part of the state of Nevada, so local guidance will continue to vary depending on the location of your pool venue. When local guidance no longer requires mandatory masking and social distancing, Pacific Swimming’s policy will revert to “personal choice”. For those members who prefer to continue to wear a mask, we encourage you to do so. The good news is that to the best of my knowledge, there have been no known cases of COVID transmitted from swimmer to swimmer, or from coach to swimmer or swimmer to coach. Congratulations to all of our athletes and coaches on this remarkable accomplishment!

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Pacific Swimming, I would like to thank you for your continued patience, understanding and especially for the sacrifices you have made to keep us all safe and healthy.

Please plan on joining us for a Town Hall Zoom meeting to be scheduled sometime in mid to late August.

David Cottam
General Chair, Pacific Swimming