August 7, 2020
From The GCSTO Offices - Evolving Plans For Fall
First things first… if you feel there is anything that we can do better to protect you and your family members in terms of COVID safety or anything else please do not hesitate to send these to me. We’ve received numerous compliments about how strictly we have stuck to our procedures and all but we do not think for a minute that we’re doing this perfectly. If you see anything that you feel would help please let me know.
And now, just to keep you in tune with where we are now and how things are shaping up for fall:
1- The current state of Central Ohio Swimming is not well. One major club announced cessation of operations for the entire short course season and the central Ohio Y administration announced that all of it's Y teams would not be allowed to operate starting this fall and no other outside rentals would be considered, as well. This all puts some 800 plus swimmers out of the pool this season. Needless to say any teams left have a very long list of interested families for the fall of which we are one.
2 - If you were with us last fall/winter for the 19/20 season and have not yet responded back to me about your plans for the fall we would ask that you do so right away. We will give this about one more attempt to secure this information from our past members before committing further to these new families. We will start accepting swimmers into Level 5 until it is full (only after moving all of our current team member Level 4 swimmers recommended by the staff up to Level 5 for the fall). We will then follow that pattern with Level 4 then Level 3 and so on.
3 - We will be limited as to how many swimmers we can take into each group due to accepted COVID regulations for our sport. Our plan is to start with 4 swimmers per lane in the water and 2 more on deck working into the water throughout practice giving us about 18 swimmers per group. Based on pool time we could actually have more in each group by assigning them a rotational bi-weekly practice attendance schedule (a group training 5 times per week may see a portion of the group assigned to 3 water practices and 2 gym swim practices the first week and then 4 water practices and 1 gym swim practice the second. We could also be able to offer 6 practices per week for a 5 practice per week group and split subgroups to fit everyone in using that additional practice. Just know that we will do all that we can to safely take as many swimmers as we can into the care of the staff
4 - Per the indoor pools... No word on our pools (Academy & St. Charles) yet for September and on into the fall. That's actually better news than you may think as they could have already told us "no". As soon as we have word on things we'll, of course, let you know.
5 - We ARE planning on starting September, however, both in the gym and in two of the outdoor pools we've been using. We're working with, both Westerville Jaycees Pool and Northland Swim Club for pool time now as they are making plans to remain open in September. It all depends on how many clubs want to use their facilities during that month. Things are a bit more tenuous in terms of contracts and all due to the fact that at any point in time our indoor pools could allow us in and we would want to switch indoors as a result. This causes some work with the pools as they'd be losing our rental income which could make it harder for them to stay open for other teams. I am considering that aspect of things as we discuss this as well as what is best for our own team. However, this is bigger than just us so considering the pools and these other teams is something that must be done.
6 - We will start up our dryland "Gym Swims" in September, as well. These will not only provide utterly essential complimentary training for our folks who we will have in the water but may will provide the only “swimming” opportunity to those who cannot find a place on the team anywhere. We will first take care of team members so that we have them taken care of then will set up this program for those who cannot find water time with a team via virtual attendance or on sight attendance into open spots in spots that of sessions we’re offering. For those who think “it’s just dryland” we hope they will rethink that position after seeing what it is that we have to offer. We will more than likely allow an initial free trial into a session or two for folks to see, first hand, what can be accomplished in one of these sessions in terms of start, turn & finish development, kick & stroke technique development, education (counting kicks underwater, counting out pull-outs, breath control patterns, race strategy, etc.), visual/verbal feedback, physical conditioning and all
We now have to figure out a way to pay for the mirrors, TV’s and other equipment that we’ll need for this part of our program. We’ll also come up with a list of items each athlete will need to have what is necessary to participate in this program and have a direct cost associated with this program to cover rental, staffing, insurance and all.
7 – Fall tryouts and how they will be structured will be determined once we know what we are looking at in terms of our September structure. Much is in the mix right now as we try to hire more coaches (if you know of anyone who would be good send them my way) and set up the training schedule. If all is perfect and we get both pools we can use the base schedule from last year but will need to add in practices to accommodate sticking to our COVID regulations.
8 – Levels to be included right away into our structure will be Novice, Level 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Once we know what we have in terms of additional time this fall at our pools we will then place into that mix our pre-season high school program. In the past we have been able to add these swimmers into our Level 4 group but due to COVID swimmer limitations and an utterly filled level 4 that we expect, we will have to run this as a separate program. We expect this program to end up being at max itself as high school age swimmers will want a place to get ready for their high school season due to being closed out of their club. Still, that program last 8 weeks or so while the rest of our programming lasts all season hence the reason Novice through 5 must get top priority in terms of pool time. Our consideration for pool time will start at the top (Levels 5 & 4) so that the senior groups get ample water time. Level 3 will be next in terms of pool time hierarchy then Level 1, Level 1 & finally Novice. However, “gym swim” opportunities will increase for any groups who we feel need the additional complimentary training time.
9 – Due to the nature of things we’re looking at an acceptance hierarchy not only in terms of previous history with the team but in terms of seasonal commitment as well. Year around swimmers may well be given top priority just to insure financial stability for the team in the event this lasts on into next spring and summer. As with year around swimming with us now the financial commitment for this will need to be agreed to at the front end of the season and all fees paid earlier in the season. Very honestly and right to the point we absolutely realize that we’re in a situation where many of the new swimmers may immediately return right back to their original teams once those teams start up operations again so we have to take into account what that leaves us when that occurs. We do not want to have turned away other swimmers wanting to join us for the long term so this will be a cautious effort in terms of acceptance from here.
10 – We’re still not sure of our pricing structure. The concept, yes, just not yet the structure until our pools let us know, first that we’re in, and secondly what rental will be this year. As I let our team know last year we have perpetually been the least expensive team of our kind in central Ohio due to our ability to supplement team fees with meet income. We will have to take into account when setting fees this year. However, using this reservation system this summer has been effective in terms of filling almost every available slot each and every day. While it was a higher “per hour” cost than what we had fees set on in the past this does allow us to charge you just for the days you reserve. This actually helped keep fees lower for many of you in the end yet helped us insure maximum income from all daily spots that we had available. We are looking at the same type of structure for at least part of the team if not all of the team from here. Had it not been for the $9,000 in grant money that we received from USA Swimming and Ohio Swimming so far we would have had a rough way to go even as effectively as we were trying to work.
So that’s it for this week. We’re thinking on our feet and dancing as quick as we can to get this set up for you. I’ll be coordinating a September schedule next as it is now my top priority to get us started into fall. For those who wonder why I always use a capitalized TEAM in my emails please note that this is something we have addressed many times prior. When GCSTO was formed the founders chose the word TEAM over anything like organization, school, group, club, aquatics and the like. I have learned the wisdom of that as I enter my 41st year with GCSTO as being a part of a TEAM means there is a strong commitment of all those involved to all others involved. You all are entrusting us with your what is most likely your 3 most precious resources… your children, your time and your money. That commitment deserves all of the energy and care that we can give you in return, staff members and other team members alike, as we all work together in the bests interests of all our athletes and their families.
Thanks so very much for being a part of our TEAM!