Summer speed swimming sanctioned meets called off; Estevan Golden Eels still hope for activities

The sanctioned summer speed swimming meets in Saskatchewan have been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Estevan Golden Eels still hope to have some activities.

The decision was made May 2 during an online meeting with all of the clubs from across the province, as well as Swim Sask. officials. The decision means the Eels won’t be travelling to any sanctioned meets this year.

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Summer swim meets typically start in June and continue for several weeks. Provincials are usually held in late July or early August. 

Estevan club president Deanna Tarnes said Swimming Canada has a rule that youth swimmers must train for 30 days before any competitive meets can occur.

Since it appears that swimming pools won’t be allowed to open until Phase 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, and a date hasn’t been set for Phase 4, it means there wouldn’t be enough time to get a season in.

Also a factor is that a lot of clubs only have outdoor pools, and many communities might not fill outdoor pools in 2020.

“It’s just not economical for them to fill their pools this year, so they’ve already said they’re not even going to have swimming,” said Tarnes.

Even if the crowd restrictions are eventually eased to allow 50 people, you can’t have a sanctioned swim meet with just 50 people present.

“You require 50 officials to run a swim meet, let alone kids and spectators. It would just be too hard to do a meet the way it should be.”

The club had started pre-registration when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Saskatchewan and forced the closure of recreation facilities such as swimming pools. The Eels, who have won the past five provincial titles, were hoping to have 60 kids this year.

If the RM of Estevan Aquatic Centre inside the Estevan Leisure Centre is allowed to open early enough this year, then the Eels would like to have some kind of a fun season for the swimmers. It could include non-sanctioned meets that wouldn’t count in the record books.

“We can have fun,” said Tarnes. “We can use social distancing where half the kids start at one end and half the kids start at the other. There are ways around it that we can try to do if the pool opens.”

And if other clubs are practising, they would be invited to come join the Eels for their event.

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