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Update: This year's All-City Swim Meet called off due to COVID-19, 'Forward Dane' concerns

Update: This year's All-City Swim Meet called off due to COVID-19, 'Forward Dane' concerns

All-City Swim photo

The West Side Swim Club near Whitney Way and Odana Road hosted the 2019 All-City Swim Meet, one of the largest outdoor meets in the country.

There will be no All-City Swim and Dive Meet in Madison this summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although it was a difficult decision, the All-City board of directors has unanimously decided to cancel the All-City Swim and Dive Meets for 2020,” All-City board president Ben Callan wrote in an email following a virtual board meeting on Wednesday night.

The event, which typically gathers more than 2,500 athletes up to age 19, competing for 13 league member pools, had been scheduled for the week of July 27. The diving portion was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, July 27-28, at Goodman Pool; the swimming portion was set for Thursday to Saturday, July 30-Aug. 1, at Ridgewood Pool on Madison’s Southwest Side.

Callan said the board also called off the All-City Swim League, a seven-week series of dual meets between teams from member pools that leads up to the All-City event.

On Monday, the Madison and Dane County Public Health departments released their new “Forward Dane” guidelines for dealing with the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. And those guidelines, even at their most optimistic stage of progress, made the All-City meets unfeasible from an organizational and financial perspective.

Bill Wuerger, of Ridgewood Pool, said his pool’s board voted Tuesday night against holding the swimming portion of the All-City meet at its Southwest Side facility.

In a telephone call Wednesday, Wuerger made the motion to cancel the All-City Swim Meet, and the board agreed.

“There is no higher priority than the health and safety of our athletes and their families,” Callan wrote Wednesday night. “Clearly, the public health emergency associated with COVID-19 requires adjustment to ensure societal well-being.”

Wuerger said earlier Wednesday that he hoped the All-City board would make Ridgewood the host pool for the swimming portion of the 2021 meet.

“Due to the gathering restrictions required in the “Forward Dane plan ... and our concern for the health and well-being of all athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators, the league has also canceled all dual meet competitions for 2020,” Callan wrote.

“These were extremely tough decisions by the board, but in the absence of a vaccine or treatments specific to COVID-19, we need to do our part to safeguard the community.”

Even if the county’s handling of the pandemic is able to reach Phase Three of the “Forward Dane” guidelines — the final phase before what the plan calls “the new normal” — in time for the All-City meet, the plan limits all outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 250 people and licensed pools to 75% of capacity. Both numbers are far below the number of young athletes who typically compete in the All-City activities, not even taking into consideration coaches, volunteers and spectators.

“And that’s the least restrictive phase, if we get there,” said Wuerger, also the coach of the Verona/Mount Horeb high school boys and girls swimming programs.

Most area pools typically open on or around Memorial Day weekend, but when Phase One of the Forward Dane guidelines are enacted, licensed pools would allow only 25% of occupation capacity.

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