Covid-19 and Swimming

I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are healthy, happy, and safe. All of us are struggling with either stay at home orders or a reduction in hours and livelihood.  

Our businesses hinge on having people in the water. If we get more people we’re more successful. Moving forward the suggestion is that large group gatherings will not be possible for up to two years from now. 

That is a terrifying thing to confront when considering summer outdoor pools and swim lessons generally bring in our highest revenue. 

What will no group gatherings mean for swim teams? What about swim lessons? 

Costs are going to increase and revenue is going to go down. 

Knowing how uncertain the future is for swimming and Aquatic Professionals scares me the most. 

Hardships:

Park districts have fired or laid off their entire part time staff and furloughed or laid off full-time staff. 

Private lesson companies have closed down. 

Individuals who run their own business have lost revenue and possibly haven’t qualified for unemployment, and the loan program with zero interest and forgiveness has been a debacle.

Public outdoor pools are looking at a potential closure for the entire summer. 

With everyone fired, how can we train and hire people in preparation for when we will return?

What are we going to do with our entire revenue model devastated? 

How do you teach swimming without access to water?!

But there is hope!

We can adapt. 

We can.

I’m sure you’re already looking forward to when “things will return to normal,” but I’m confident that “normal” is going to change. 

That’s okay. Life is change. We adapt. We grow. We develop and if we can we look to the future with a critical eye and think “how can we plan for tomorrow?” 

It is better to plan and aim towards a goal than to simply react. 

What can we do?

Let’s assume a few things. 

  • Stay at home orders will eventually lift.
  • There will be restrictions on how many people can be at a location at one time.
  • We need to consider how we can protect our staff.

Here are a few ideas on what we can do:


Reduce class sizes.

Let’s take this opportunity to leverage lower swimmer to instructor ratios. Instead of running lessons with 7 kids in a class drop down to a max of 4.

Invest in a booking system

Like a hair salon, a massage clinic, or a private lesson, invest in a tool to schedule and book your facility with limited space.

Manage your facility schedule by rethinking how you monetize the pool. Before we needed the maximum number of bodies in the water at a time, now we need to have maximum use across the day with a hard cap on participants.

Move to private lessons

Remove your group lesson offerings all together and move to a strict private lessons schedule. Consider drastically reducing fees temporarily to retain membership and engagement. 

Stagger swim teams

Offer multiple times in the day to swim. If schools are closed, offer practices in the morning, day, and evening. Spread out the times for the same ability groups to allow everyone a chance to show up. 

Assign practice times

We have let people come to any practice their group is scheduled for. We might have to assign people to practice. If we dictate practice days and times then we know who will be there and can maintain reduced number of people. 

Require lifeguards, instructors, and coaches to wear face masks.

Be prepared for increased prevention and mitigation against droplet transmission. Think now about getting your hands on personal protective equipment that is appropriate to your needs.

Seriously, wash your hands; frequently and well.

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I know this is a difficult time. I know that the future is uncertain. Swimming will remain if we can make it through the social distancing, the shutdowns, and the fury and terror of being laid off, furloughed, and faced with no income. 

If we could build a time machine we’d make more money, set more aside for today’s rain, and lean into savings. 

Asking you to look at all the new agency products, team based offerings for online course access, digital lesson plans, and training seems callous. 

I’ve been furloughed from my full time job where I coach and run swim lessons. Faced with a devastating loss of income and massive pool closings things look grim. 

But I know, like you, that tomorrow’s sun will rise, tomorrow’s wind will blow, and we’ll face a new tomorrow together. 

Be well, stay safe, and plan forward.

Better swimming.

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