LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Save Our Summer: It’s the battle cry from many Kentuckians who hope to convince Gov. Andy Beshear to look at reopening swimming pools with safety guidelines.
The group has only been active for two weeks and already more than 15,000 people have signed a change.org petition to get pools open as soon as possible. Save Our Summer is getting noticed on social media and gaining momentum, but organizers aren’t sure if the state’s top official is listening.
“Gov. Andy Beshear is not giving us a whole lot of hope,” SOS organizer Kathy Young said. "He’s saying late July or early August.”
Being in a chemically-treated pool certainly isn’t the problem. Using statistics, Beshear pointed out during his Tuesday press briefing that COVID-19 can spread easily in group situations, like gathering around a pool.
Young, a Louisville teacher and mom, said she understands that concern.
“We are not expecting pools to look the same as they have in the past,” she said, adding that the CDC and swimming organizations have guidelines that could be followed. She also said that as a teacher, she sees how some children are withdrawing without social activity, and believes it’s affecting their mental health. Young said she wants pools open by Memorial Day, or at least by mid-June when the governor youth sports can begin.
Meanwhile, some swim coaches who also want pools open have a different argument.
“Not all facilities and not all pools are created equal,” Cardinal Aquatics Coach Amy Albiero said. She said Beshear’s office should allow her Safe Splash Swim School to open by June 1 when gyms and fitness centers are allowed to open. Her school in Springhurst is a small business.
“We’ve proposed very strict guidelines," she said, adding that her proposal submitted through the Healthy at Work portal includes no more than seven people in her facility at one time. If she’s not allowed to open, her fear is that athletes, who’ve already missed two months of training, will resort to measures that pose other safety issues.
“I can tell you three athletes right now who’ve bought wetsuits and are training in the Ohio River,” she said. “I don’t know who’s supervising them.”
Albiero said high-level swimmers must get in the water to compete. She said some Kentucky swimmers are hopefuls for the now-2021 Olympics, and every day they’re not in the pool, their dreams are at risk.