Summer brings swimming for area children but it will be primarily for fun after the Western Ohio Aquatic League (WOAL) canceled its season Monday night.
Due to pool availability and the unknown factors of the coronavirus, the WOAL board decided not to compete this season and start back up in 2021.
Eight teams from Ada, Bluffton, Kenton, Shawnee, Sherwood, Van Wert, Wapakoneta and Westside make up the WOAL.
“It seems like there is a lot of uncertainty around pool access and limitations of size of group gatherings and our season is only six weeks long so this year the Western Ohio Aquatic League swim season has been canceled,” said Jeff Bowles, a member of the WOAL board who also works with the Bluffton team. “We are basically going to push everything off a year. We are going to try and do something special for our seniors.”
Because of the pandemic restrictions concerning crowd sizes, practices for the teams, much less putting on meets, were not realistic.
There was talk of doing things through virtual technology but once the pools began placing their own restrictions on visitors those ideas were nixed.
Pushing back the dates of the start of the season and the meets was also dropped and it was decided to resume in 2021.
Bowles added that this year’s seniors will also be given an exemption and allowed to swim in next year’s WOAL championships.
“If they choose to swim they can, and we will recognize them even if they can’t swim or are busy with other things, we will at least try to recognize them at our champs,” Bowles said.
The 2021 WOAL championships will be held in Kenton.
Another factor that played a role in the decision was gathering sponsors for the championships and realizing that getting sponsors to support their event while dealing with their their own economic issues to contend during the pandemic.
“To ask them to help us fund the meet at the end of the season, which there is quite an expense around that, we thought that would be difficult,” Bowles said.
Bowles pointed out that each league team may still offer a summer swim program depending on if and when their respective pools open.
A lot of board conversation was focused on pool availability and how it differs from facility to facility.
“There were some pools that weren’t going to allow people from their counties to come their facilities and there were others like Sherwood that have closed and were no going to open up this season and there is still some undecided and some restrictions where they were only going to open up to members during this time,” Bowles said.
Financially, Bowles said some teams will be impacted but because the season had not started it was not as hurtful.
“There are definitely some teams that will be impacted by this but for the most part we are early in the season where there few were expenses incurred at this stage,” Bowles said. “The league is fairly strong as well because we have had great financial support in the past.”
Bowles added that the pools teams use will be hit the hardest. Some of them are community pools and others are privately owned and each of them will miss out on the revenue generated from meets, practices and overall usage.
“There is definitely going to be an impact, and we are hoping they can survive as far as everything going on this summer and if they are able to open or not. We are hoping to have the same number of pools that we had this year that we have next year. There are some worries about some facilities closing down.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.