Southern Zone Athlete Representatives Issue COVID-19 Statement

Jim Kelly
Southern Zone Athlete Representatives Issue COVID-19 Statement
The Southern Zone Athletes’ Commission has issued a statement regarding the current status of the coronavirus in the United States. USA Swimming’s Southern Zone consists of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, West Virginia, Georgia, North & South Carolina and Florida. Two of those states: South Carolina & Florida have had a big spike in coronavirus cases according to The New York Times in the last couple months since states have begun to re-open.
The statement can be read in full below:
Over the past three and a half months, your Southern Zone Athlete Representatives have worked very hard to support our membership during the COVID-19 crisis and to build a transition back into the water. We have met, and continue to meet, frequently with USA Swimming senior leadership, our Southern Zone Non-Athlete Directors, the Zone Directors’ Council, and the Athletes’ Executive Committee, among other groups, to take steps to sustain our membership during pool closures and to rebuild our sport in the wake of COVID-19.
It is with those months of work in mind, and the challenges we are facing as we begin to reopen, that we strongly call on the members and families of the Southern Zone to practice social distancing, wear masks, and follow the health guidelines government agencies have provided.
Cases across the Southern Zone have been spiking in recent weeks as state and local governments begin to reopen, and, while we understand the reopening process and the desire to return to daily life, we need to acknowledge the trade-off this reopening has created. Within our sport, the bulk of this burden falls on us, the younger, generally healthier individuals that make up our teams and LSCs. We must act with selflessness and grace in upholding these guidelines for the sake of protecting more vulnerable populations and our fellow teammates and coaches.
Wearing masks, keeping your distance, and following guidelines has not gone away simply as areas reopen: they are integral to allowing re-openings to continue, and to keeping you and those around you safe. Wearing a mask and following USA Swimming recommendations is a minor inconvenience compared to repercussions we will face for not adhering to these guidelines.
Following such guidelines are essential in ensuring that our sport can continue to progress through a reopening process. Nearly all of our members suffered extensive and/or frequent pool closures, and many of our members still do not have water access. Rapid growth in viral cases will not only hinder the return-to-practice of the swimmers still waiting to return to the pool, it will threaten those who have already returned to practice with future pool closures. Such rapid growth will also slow our ability as a sport to hold the competitions, meets, and programs that are so fundamental to our swimming experience. It is crucial that ALL of our members are acting safely and appropriately in order for us to return to large-level LSC, Zone, and National competition in the foreseeable future. Taking these simple steps will make the difference in our ability to swim together once again.
In the last few months, we have seen incredible persistence, confidence, and unity across the members of the Southern Zone. Swimmers, coaches, and volunteers have stepped up for one another in order to support the vulnerable individuals in their communities. Such dedication has been truly inspiring, but it can’t end yet.
We need your help, your selflessness, and your following of guidelines to get all of us there soon.
Annie Norris
Southern Zone Senior Athlete Representative
Ryan Gibbons
Southern Zone Senior Athlete Representative