The City Swim and Dive Meet is a beloved local event, one that has taken place annually since 1961 and brings in more than 1,000 participants and 3,000 spectators.
Understandably, it was an overwhelming task to try and manage that many people, keep them safe at Helen P. Brown Natatorium, and get all the various events in amid the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, the board of directors announced last night it had cancelled this year’s meet.
“The decision was very disappointing,” said Yardley Glassley, the meet director. “The board definitely debated it for multiple days before coming to the conclusion that we could not have it. It was extremely disappointing for the board and all of the swimmers and divers.”
The good news is some of the summer swim season has been taking place, giving swimmers and divers opportunities to learn to swim and dive, practice, spend time with friends, and compete in smaller competitions.
“This decision did not impact any of the dual meets,” Glassley said. “Those are left up to the individual teams to determine how to do that safely within the restrictions placed by Indiana’s (Back on Track) plans.”
The diving portion of the City Meet had been scheduled for July 17-18. The swim portion was to take place July 31-Aug.2.
The meet is organized by the non-profit Fort Wayne Summer Swim and Dive, Inc.
“The number of swimmers and spectators ended up being the undoing of being able to hold it safely. We had worked through Plans A, B, C and D, and had some ideas in place how to do the meet,” Glassley said.
“But when the Governor did not release Indiana to Stage 5 (which would have more fully opened recreational sports on July 4), and he pushed it back to July 17, that really helped force this decision along because at that point we were under a little stricter guidelines than originally we might have been. Knowing that come (the meet), that may not have been lifted, just being able to do it in a safe manner didn’t seem feasible anymore.”
Local clubs have taken safety precautions this summer, including disallowing sharing of equipment and maintaining distancing, a change to a typical summer when swimmers and divers commiserate in the water and on deck chairs, share towels and water bottles, or play Sharks and Minnows. It can be challenging to keep distance in the pool, regardless, especially when lining up for instruction, to practice strokes or to swimming laps.
Some dual meets have been run in two sessions, or over two days, to limit the number of people at pools.
“Especially since the pools in the area are only at 50% capacity, you really have to work within the bounds of whatever pool you’re at,” Glassley said.
Anyone who has been to the City Meet knows that the deck gets extremely crowded – there were as many as 430 kids at the natatorium last year for the Sunday session – and there’s not an empty seat in the stands.
The City Meet is expected to be back in 2021.
“Yeah, we don't anticipate having any issues next year,” Glassley said.