The coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally changing our lives, at least in the short term. We’ve seen sweeping closures and suspensions in virtually every activity that involves many humans gathering in one place. And this includes almost every professional sport plus many amateur sports.
The international swimming community is taking this seriously as well. USA Swimming has cancelled all meets for 30 days. FINA has cancelled its events. So have swimming bodies in Australia, Scandinavia, many European countries, etc. Everyone is aware that gatherings of people from across a large geographic area or even just across a large city is just a bad idea.
I understand that Swimming Canada is aware of the problem, and is monitoring the situation. And I understand their dilemma. Canadian Olympic Swim Trials start in just 17 days, and most likely they are desperately trying to get the Trials in before issuing any kind of cancellation or suspension of meets.
But here’s the problem. There are 95 other meets scheduled in Canada between now and the end of the Trials. In total, that’s 96 gatherings of swimmers, parents, officials and facility staff where the coronavirus could easily be spread in a diaspora-like fashion into all those communities. The Trials are perhaps the biggest threat, as this brings people from all over Canada, and puts into one building. There is no possible way this can be achieved with social distancing concepts. I truly feel bad for the swimmers, but the potential for catastrophe and subsequent loss of life within all those communities is just too large to ignore.
Our Trials are not the only problem either. Ordinary invitational meets in swimmer-dense areas such as Toronto can have over 1000 swimmers, with roughly equal numbers of parents. Those meets are so crowded that you’ll probably never be 6 feet away from another person during the whole meet. This is exactly the type of event that experts are saying is dangerous.
Swimming Canada, it’s time to bite the bullet and cancel/suspend events. I recognize what a difficult decision this seems like right now. But in hindsight, you’ll realize this was necessary.