It’s a hectic fixture of young Madison’s summer, the All-City Swim League and its crowning finale, the All-City Swim and Dive meets.
The events gather more than 2,500 athletes up to age 19, competing for 13 member pools — along with thousands of spectators —for two days of diving and three days of swimming competition that many Madison-area youngsters have used as a springboard into successful high school and college swimming careers.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced pool and meet organizers into a giant holding pattern. While they still have some time on their side, the clock is ticking toward the anticipated on-or-about Memorial Day for the season opening of most pools.
The All-City Dive meet is set for Monday and Tuesday, July 27-28, at Goodman Pool. The All-City Swim Meet will be held at Ridgewood on Thursday through Saturday, July 30 through Aug. 1.
That’s well off in the distance, to be sure. But swimmers must have several weeks of preparation before diving into the All-City meet, from coaching instruction to practice to smaller All-City Swim League meets that introduce them to competition.
Pools have generally opened on or around Memorial Day, which this year is Monday, May 25. But Gov. Tony Evers’ latest extension of the statewide “Safer At Home” program lasts until May 26, and could be extended further.
That means an almost certain delay in pool openings, which in turn could mean trouble for the All-City meets. Ben Callan, this year’s president of the All-City Meets, said in an email this week that his committee is watching the developments closely.
“At this point, the League and each of its member pools is focused on the “Badger Bounce Back” guidance from (the Wisconsin Department of Health Services) to determine what will work best for their members, and how that impacts their operations for 2020.”
Callan said the Goodman and Ridgewood planning committees are continuing to meet and discuss options for the All-City competitions this year, with a priority on safety — not only COVID-19 protocols, but traffic control and other considerations. “Until we reach Phases 2 and 3 of the “Badger Bounce Back,” appropriate gathering restrictions must be followed,” he said.
The first step in the equation involves opening dates for the 13 pools that make up the All-City League. Most have a COVID-19 statement on their home pages, and each seems to tell a similar story urging caution and patience. Some have kept registration open; others have suspended it until the situation clarifies.
Some excerpts from the pools’ online statements:
Ridgewood: “At this time, we are optimistically preparing for the best-case scenario: that the pool opens on time as usual.” The pool opened registration on its target date of April 15.
Nakoma (from an email sent by coach Amy Silvestri): “As of right now we have not made any decisions regarding summer swim team. We will follow the directions of the state, but hopefully we will have a team and league this summer.”
Parkcrest: “With (the) extension of the “Safer at Home” order beyond Memorial Day, we know it is extremely unlikely Parkcrest will open Memorial Day weekend. A number of variables will dictate how and when we open the pool.”
High Point: “We hope to open as long as we can do so safely and in compliance with government regulations. If the pool opens after the “Safer at Home” mandate is revised on May 26, there likely will be changes to hours of operation, number of individuals who can gather, programs offered and pool cleaning guidelines. There are many unknowns, and it will take two to three weeks to prepare once we receive word that we may proceed to open.”
Shorewood Hills: “We are currently still holding off on collecting any membership fees or materials from either returning or new pool members. … What things look like beyond (May 26) are still a bit of an unknown.”
West Side: “The impact for our summer at West Side is obviously still in flux. We will be following the city, state and federal government guidelines, just like many organizations/businesses in the Madison area.”