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IMPORTANT GKAISA UPDATE

Head Coaches and Team Reps,

I hope that all of you are healthy and safe during these uncertain times. The GKAISA Board continues to meet bi-weekly via Zoom to make plans for our summer swim season. We will continue to follow the guidance of our medical experts, our federal, state and local governments, and the best interests of our swimmers, coaches and volunteers.

Our summer swim season is set to begin in approximately 4 weeks. Now that we are about to enter Phase I of the State and Local Re-opening Plans, the GKAISA Board would like to make you aware of the challenges that we will face this summer.

PHASE 1 PLANS AND SEASON OPENING

Now that we have guidance regarding the phased re-opening of the State, we have at least some idea of what we may face going forward. We are aware that swimming facilities are not included in Phase 1, which is set to begin on May 1 and to last for at least 28 days. This means that pools will not open until May 28 at the earliest. I have had conversations with our local government officials, and we have discussed that this may be adjusted, depending on COVID-19 infection rates. If this is the case, Phase 1 could continue even longer. At this point, we just don’t have the answers. Our public health officials review data and data trends daily and are working to make the best decisions for our communities.

Under the guidelines as published, Phase 2 could potentially include swimming facilities. If this is the case, then the earliest we could have teams in the water will be May 28. However, please be aware that pools are not specifically mentioned, meaning that they could be moved into Phase 3 (or could even have operations suspended because of the nature of social contact… and the difficulty in maintaining social distancing). At this point, we just do not know.

We are hopeful that summer swim can begin on May 28 (or somewhere thereabout) We will, however, follow recommendations from our medical experts and federal, state and local governments as to whether we start on that day or whether we will be delayed. As an organization, we will follow the mandates of the most restrictive of the counties in which our teams operate. Again, we want to create a safe and fair environment for all of our teams.

Again, if we are not able to start at the end of May as planned, we are hopeful that we can have a partial season this summer. We know the impact that summer swim has on our swimmers and on our communities, and we want to continue with the momentum that swimming has in our area. Again, our feeling is that “some swimming is better than no swimming.”


COACHES’ MEETING and MEET DIRECTOR’S MEETING

The Coaches’ Meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 12 at 6:00 pm and will be a Zoom meeting. All coaches should plan to attend. Tom Schumann will conduct the meeting and will cover the material necessary for coaching this year. Additionally, we have asked that a representative from the Knox County Health Department speak on the guidelines for social distancing and “best practices” for swimming in the time of COVID-19. Marshall Goldman and/or Matt Kredich will also speak on breath-holding and shallow water blackouts.

The Meet Director’s Meeting will be held on Saturday, May 9 at 9:00 am and will be conducted via Zoom. A representative from the Knox County Health Department has been invited to discuss guidelines for social distancing and “best practices” for gathering in groups.


VIRTUAL MEETS

Until such time as we can gather in sufficient numbers without social distancing restrictions, all GKAISA meets will be virtual meets. This will allow our teams to “compete” while adhering to all the required safety measures that are in place. Team reps and head coaches should attend SwimTopia’s webinar this Thursday, April 30 at 8:00 pm. The link is as follows:

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6031697995495532043

SwimTopia has agreed to do a special Zoom call with GKAISA to answer questions related to virtual meets. Following the webinar, please email your questions to Kelley Perkins at khperkins@yahoo.com, who will compile them for SwimTopia. Once we have the questions, we will schedule the Zoom to get the answers.

While it is not ideal to hold meets in this way, it will give our teams an opportunity to compete. Other groups across the country have started doing this, with great success.

NOTE: Since we will swim “virtual meets,” as opposed to live meets, we will not crown League champions. Because of the discrepancy in our pools (in both distance and water temperature) and because we will not have consistency in timing and judging, the GKAISA Board has determined that it is unfair to use these meets as a measure of success.

HOWEVER, GKAISA will give out end-of-season awards to the top swimmers in each event from each team (no times will be posted). We will also hand out team awards based on participation, sportsmanship, and a few other fun (and creative) criteria. Coaches and team reps, we would love your input on awards that might motivate and inspire your swimmers. Please send your suggestions to Angelia Nystrom at anystrom@tennessee.edu by May 5.


COACHES’ CERTIFICATIONS and INSURANCE CERTIFICATES

Coaches are required to complete Concussion Awareness Training, Sudden Cardiac Death Training, and Athlete Protection Training. The links for the training, along with the forms required by the State, are under the Coaches’ tab on the website.

NOTE: Either SafeSport or Redwoods are acceptable for the Athlete Protection training. SafeSport is a more comprehensive training; however, the cost $20 per coach. (Redwoods is free for us.) We have requested information on a GKAISA license for SafeSport so that we can offer it free to coaches next year.

Please submit completed forms to Breckenridge Morgan at Breckenridge@GSMAssoc.org. Deadline is June 1.

Certificates of Insurance for your pools are due on June 15. Please submit those to Breckenridge Morgan at Breckenridge@GSMAssoc.org.


CITY MEET

The GKAISA Board has made the painful decision to cancel this year’s City Meet Championship. Given the likely limitations on gatherings, the public health crisis that exists, and that fact that we cannot secure pool space based on the available data, we cannot, in good faith, proceed with scheduling a Championship Meet. This is disappointing, but we feel that it is in the best interests of our swimmers, coaches, volunteers, and communities as a whole.

Please know that we are sensitive to the fact that we have a number of Senior Swimmers who will be competing in their last year of eligibility. Last year, we instituted a rule wherein a swimmer who is over the age of 18 can petition for an additional year of GKAISA swimming if that swimmer can demonstrate hardship and if that swimmer has not participated as a college athlete in the preceding year. This public health crisis is certainly the type of hardship that GKAISA will consider when granting waivers. If you have a swimmer who will be 18 this summer and who participates on your team and in at least 75% of your meets, that swimmer can petition next year to swim although the swimmer has exceeded the age limit. Please advise your seniors of this rule and encourage them to participate so that they can petition for a waiver to swim next year.

We are already starting to plan City Meet 2021 and hope that everyone will be excited to compete when we can finally gather as a League!

SENIOR SWIMMERS

The GKAISA Board wants to be sure that we adequately recognize our senior swimmers. This year’s seniors have missed out on proms, year-end celebrations, and will likely have graduations that look nothing like the graduation that they were expecting. While some seniors may be able to petition to swim an extra year in the event we are unable to swim this summer, many will not, as we have a number of swimmers who are going on to compete in college athletics, who will be doing internships next year, or who will have other school/job commitments that will keep them from being able to compete. So many of them have been integral to your teams for many years, and we want to recognize their accomplishments.

In that regard, we are asking each team to send a list of their swimmers who are/ would be in their last year of GKAISA competition. If you have it, please include a photo and a bio of not more than 75 words about the swimmer’s accomplishments. We will feature those on the GKAISA website this year.

Please send this information to Angelia Nystrom at anystrom@tennessee.edu. Please reference GKAISA Senior in the Subject Line.

Also, the GKAISA Board will present the Tom Schumann Service Award, the Bill Lauer Service Award and the James Rich Courage in the Face of Adversity awards this year -- whether or not we get to compete. We were blessed last year with lower costs and increased revenue at City Meet. We believe that it is important that we continue to honor our best and brightest, especially during these difficult times.

We are hopeful that this time of quarantine and social distancing will be successful in eliminating concerns about COVID-19 and that we will be able to get swimmers in the water soon. Hopefully, by this time next year, COVID-19 will be a distant memory, and we can get back to our robust and spirited competition on pool decks across our region.

Again, we will keep you updated. We are all in this together, and we appreciate your willingness to be nimble in times like these.

Stay safe and healthy,

Angelia Nystrom

GKAISA President

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