June 12, 2020:

Good News!!! Yesterday, after many phone calls and emails and conversations, we were given approval by the city of Atlanta to begin swim team practices!!!

 

Here are the conditions (at least through the end of June):

1. The earliest we can be in the water is June 15.

2. The pool is to remain closed and may ONLY be used for team practices with a certified coach. No open swim, no lap swimming, and no lessons.

3. No spectators are allowed. This applies to both practices and meets. The city would have to relax its rules next month in order for us to allow spectators at our virtual meets.

4. The city will conference with us once per week to monitor our progress. They also may send someone out to observe and ensure we are following all guidelines.

 

We have a very comprehensive plan, which was approved by the city, for social-distancing, capacity limits, cleaning/sanitizing, and running practices as safely as possible. More details will be shared in the next few days.

 

We plan to begin with new swimmer evaluations on Monday 6/15 and Tuesday 6/16. A Signup Genius will be sent out this weekend to all new families and posted on the coolsharks.org website, and you will need to preregister for a time slot. All new swimmers ages 8 and under must attend an evaluation before they can participate on the team. This includes wait-listed swimmers, former Shark Pups, and swimmers who previously participated in our lessons program. The only swimmers who do not need to attend are those who swam on our 2019 Cool Sharks summer team or fall team. If you are unable to attend an evaluation on Monday or Tuesday please email coolsharks@gardenhillspool.com ASAP. Swimmers will need to demonstrate that they are able to swim 25 yards across the deep end of the pool, on their front using arms and legs, without stopping or holding on to the lane ropes. They should not be afraid to put their face in the water. As always, we are not evaluating technique as much as confidence and endurance, but we will need to be stricter than usual this season. In a normal season we would have stroke clinic, coaches in the water, and weeks to prepare our beginners. This season we are really going to need every swimmer ready to go on day one in order to maintain the flow of a socially-distant practice. Some ASA teams have decided not to offer 6&u or even 7/8 groups this year - we are going to try to at least accommodate swimmers who are ready.

 

As promised, we will have an opt-out period for families to determine if our new season plan works for them. During this period we will be providing full refunds for any reason. The opt-out period for full refunds will end on Wednesday June 17.  (Sorry it's not much time, but things are moving very quickly!) After that date we will be moving swimmers from our wait list, finalizing our rosters and coaching staff, and ordering t-shirts, etc. We will continue to offer partial refunds after 6/17 - we want families to feel comfortable participating on our team and if at any time that changes please let us know. But for now, after so many weeks of uncertainty and such a late start, time is of the essence!

 

We are still working to finalize practice plans, but as of now we are planning to have 11 & over swimmers start early or mid week (6/16 or 6/17), with 10 & under swimmers starting possibly next Saturday (6/20) or the following Monday (6/22). Based on our current numbers (which may change) we will start out running practices all day, from 8am until 9pm Monday through Saturday, and possibly Sunday afternoons. We will have multiple practice times for each age group. There will be a 15 minute break between each practice session to allow for socially-distanced transitions as well and cleaning and sanitizing between groups. Practice times may be adjusted each week based on attendance and any tweaking we need to make to keep things running smoothly and safely, as well as any changes in guidelines. And they will need to change considerably if the pool opens in July.

 

We will have a Signup Genius for practice each week (opening a few days in advance) and you will be allowed to preregister for 3 time slots per week. We will likely start with 12-18 swimmers per time slot. If a practice is rained out, those swimmers will be given priority to register for any open spots. Otherwise any remaining open spots will be made available on the day of practice to anyone who wishes to sign up for additional practices. Please be patient as we work through this new system!

 

Here is a preliminary calendar for the season:

6/15-6/16: New Swimmer Evaluations

6/16 or 6/17 (tentative): 11 & over practices begin

6/20 or 6/22 (tentative): 10 & under practices begin

6/20: swimsuit fitting (by appointment)

week of 7/6: first virtual meet

week of 7/13: second virtual meet

week of 7/20: third virtual meet

week of 7/27: fourth virtual meet

sometime in August: potential swim-a-thon and team party (if rules allow, may divide into age groups)

 

We will be sending out LOTS of information over the next few days - things are moving very quickly! Feel free to send questions to coolsharks@gardenhillspool.com. We are a little overwhelmed right now so may not answer, but repeat questions may find their way into our FAQs (hoping to have a special FAQ for this season at some point...). And your questions may be answered in one of the many emails we plan to send out over the next week too.

 

Also please remember that the pool is NOT allowed to open yet. The city has only given swim/dive teams permission to use the pools at this time (same for Chastain). Our pool board is still working toward opening later this summer so keep your fingers crossed for that!

 

Thank you all so much for your patience and support through all these weeks of waiting! We know you've been as anxious and ready as we are. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we're so excited to have our Cool Sharks back in the water soon!!

 

 

May 29, 2020:

Good news! The pool will have its county inspection early next week. Hopefully we will soon clear this first hurdle on our path to reopening :).

 

The City of Atlanta has moved into Phase Two of its reopening plan, and the City Parks Director will be meeting with the leaders of the city's 3 public "partner" pools (Garden Hills, Chastain, and Piedmont Park), also early next week. Keep your fingers crossed for more good news!

 

And one last important development - yesterday the governor signed an executive order to allow gatherings of up to 25 people, and allowing amateur sports leagues and recreational sports to resume. Things are moving in the right direction for our swim season.

 

Coach MJ, Coach PJ, and your team leaders have been hard at work, continuing to refine our plans for safely offering a swim team this season. Here are some more details we can share:

 

  • June 15th is our cut-off date. If we have not started by then, or at least have a final city-approved plan to start, we will cancel our season and issue refunds to everyone. We would still look at offering swim clinics, lessons, and other opportunities for your swimmers to be in the water later this summer if at all possible.

  • Practices will likely start out with small socially-distanced groups of 4-6 swimmers rotating through three stations: deep end (1 swimmer per lane), shallow end (6 ft apart), and dry-land (6 ft apart). With practices of only 12-18 swimmers at a time, we will need to offer a lot of practice sessions, and not everyone will be able to come in the evenings or during their preferred time, with friends, back-to-back with a sibling's practice time, etc.

  • Our larger age groups such as 7-8 and 9-10 will likely have multiple practices offered in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, and on the weekend. You will need to be flexible about when you attend (hopefully this will be easier with so many parents working from home and so many camps and other summer programs cancelled). We will use a Sign-Up Genius or similar platform to sign up for practice slots, and swimmers will be limited in the number of practices they may attend each week. Flexibility and adaptability will be key! (for everything this season!)

  • Meets will almost certainly be virtual, and would be held in July, if guidelines change and larger gatherings are allowed by then. A virtual meet means we swim at our pool, our opponent swims at their pool, then afterwards we share results and tally the scores. It is possible that parents may not be allowed to watch unless they are volunteering. It is also possible that we might allow spectators but need to limit the number per family and limit where they can be on the pool deck. It is all going to be a numbers game, and will depend on what the rules look like in July.

  • If we are allowed to have meets - we will do everything we can to still make them fun! At our last coaches meeting we talked about how we could have "themes" each meet, like Hawaiian or Superhero, etc. We can play music. We can have treats. Meets would likely be a lot less hectic and overwhelming for our younger swimmers and more relaxing for volunteers and coaches as well :). Meets would need to move slower - events would be spread out to limit contact between groups of swimmers (no more crowds of kids behind the starting blocks!).

  • Right now we are thinking of splitting each meet into 3 parts: a 6&u Mini Meet (which would only last about 30 mins), a 7-8/9-10 Meet, and an 11&over Meet. We are considering several options, since we are no longer bound to Tuesday nights. Meets could be on weekend mornings or any evening (except Fri/Sat if the pool is open), and may be split over two or three different days.

 

Practices and meets may be very different, but one real positive is that swimmers should be getting more individual attention and instruction this season! Even if we are not able to offer the same competitive opportunities, with the same large social practices and meets, we hope this will be a great opportunity for our children to really develop as swimmers, and come back stronger than ever next year! :)

 

Of course ALL of this is subject to change and refinement, based on decisions by the city and any changes in guidelines we need to follow as the summer progresses, as well as the needs of other users of the pool. But we wanted to give you a better idea of what to expect and some of the possibilities.

 

We will continue to keep you updated - hope to have more good news to share next week! Thanks as always for your continuing patience and support!

 

 

May 20, 2020:

Thank you for your patience and support! Here is the latest update...

 

The governor's latest executive order from May 12th allows the opening of public pools in Georgia, provided all guidelines are followed. 

 

The Garden Hills pool board met last Sunday. They are busy creating plans and contingencies for the upcoming season and working through the logistics of opening and managing the pool this year. Right now they are waiting on two things: 1. an inspection from Fulton County which would allow us to operate (this has already been applied for but as you can imagine there is a backlog) and 2. a decision from the City of Atlanta regarding opening city pool facilities. We really have no idea when either of those two things will happen, but plans are being made so that we will be ready to go as soon as we have a green light.

 

Our Cool Sharks team leaders and coaches met this past week and discussed at length our ideas for how to offer a summer team this season under whatever conditions and guidelines we may need to follow (based on public health guidelines, governmental restrictions and recommendations, and GHP policies and requirements). We think we have some good plans now and are now waiting to see what our final numbers look like and what the exact requirements and recommendations will be when our season starts. Our goal is to get in the water as soon as the pool is able to open.

 

Together with GHP pool management, we are creating careful plans for safety, social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, etc. all of which will allow us to follow all guidelines while keeping the safety of our pool patrons, employees, and team members as our top priority. These plans will be shared with the team once they are finalized and an opening plan is announced. They will be constantly reviewed and adjusted as needed, so flexibility and adaptability will be important for everyone this season.

 

Here are some things we can tell you now:

  • We are still planning for practice to begin sometime in June (hopefully early June!) and to have virtual meets in July. The season will end by August 1st at the latest.

  • Practices will likely be smaller, to allow for social distancing, which means there may be more practice groups. We may use rotating "stations" (deep end, shallow end, dry-land) to further separate swimmers during practice.

  • Practice times may change in order to accommodate more practice groups and we may offer more morning and weekend practices.

  • Coach to swimmer ratios should be higher as a result of smaller groups (a bonus!).

  • Swimmers will need to be very independent this season. We weren't able to have a stroke clinic this spring to get our swimmers ready. We are not going to be able to have coaches in the water or accommodate swimmers who cannot reasonably keep up with practice. Therefore we will be stricter than normal with our new swimmer evaluations. If your beginner swimmer isn't confident and ready to go on day one, this may not be the season to start swim team.

  • We will not be able to tolerate repeated behavior issues. There will be rules which swimmers will need to be able to follow for the safety of the group, and we will have to be strict on this. If your child struggles with following instructions, this may not be a good season to participate on the swim team.

  • We are going to need full cooperation from parents. This season will undoubtedly be different from other seasons and you may not be able to engage in the ways you are used to. We may have restrictions which don't allow parents on the pool deck during practice. You may not be able to crowd around the pool during swim meets. We will have rules for you to follow as well. We may also ask for extra help and volunteers - please help when you can so we can make this season a reality and keep things safely running for our kids.

  • We will continue to offer full refunds for any reason until the season begins. Once we announce the plan for our season, we will have an opt-out period (with full refunds) for you to weigh the new rules and schedules and decide if your family still wants to participate. And we will continue to offer partial refunds throughout the season if you are ever uncomfortable and decide to withdraw your child.

 

Making this season happen is going to require a lot of additional effort and adjustments on everyone's part. Hopefully it will all be worth it and we will be able to finally get our kids out of the house and in the water for a fun and memorable season of swimming!

 

We will continue to keep you updated - hope to have more info soon! Thanks as always for your support!

 

 

May 7, 2020:

Please see the attached letter (click HERE) from Franke Marsden, director of the ASA league. We had our league zoom meeting last night, and the Garden Hills Pool Board will be meeting this Saturday. I will share more information next week - please stay tuned!

 

Keep crossing those fingers! And as always, thank you for your continued support :)

 

 

 

April 23, 2020:

Garden Hills continues to monitor the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation with state and local authorities, along with guidance from the Atlanta Swimming Association (ASA), Georgia Swimming, and our Garden Hills Pool board. As always, our priority is to do what is in the best interests of our swimmers, families, team, and community.

 

We have decided to cancel Shark Pups Session 2 (May). All registrations for this Shark Pups session will be cancelled and refunded. Please allow a week or two to receive your refund. Your patience is appreciated! Registration is still open for sessions 3 and 4, but of course everything remains very much up in the air right now, as we wait to see how things look for the summer.

 

We are also postponing the start of our Summer Swim Team season and cancelling our Kick-Off Party, originally scheduled for May 2nd. We are still in wait-and-see mode regarding the pool opening status for this summer. Everything is contingent upon the most current CDC recommendations and potential governmental decisions which may impact us. The City of Atlanta has convened a panel to make recommendations by May 15th for re-opening the city. The Garden Hills pool board is also meeting that same week to continue to evaluate their plans for opening. We will keep you informed as these new developments unfold.

 

ASA director Franke Marsden is planning a zoom meeting for team leaders next week, and I will update you all after that meeting. I just spoke with Franke last week and he is still hopeful that we will be able to have a swim season this summer, although it is looking more and more likely that season will be delayed in starting and finishing. Meet formats may be changed and we may not be able to have a championship meet. ASA is keeping all options on the table and will keep us informed of any news as it develops. 

 

Registration remains open for our 2020 Summer Team for now.  We will continue to be flexible with our refund policy this season. Until we finalize plans for the season, we will process full refunds for any swimmer who requests one, and once we do have a plan we will provide all families with the opportunity to opt out and receive a full refund if any changes don't work for their family or if they just don't feel comfortable participating. However, families who request refunds now may not be able to be added back later (especially in the younger groups which are already full), so if your family is flexible and you would like to keep open the option of being a part of our team this summer, please keep your children registered and continue waiting until we have more information and can announce a plan. 

 

I know this spring seems to be dragging on forever and things are very uncertain now, but we are still early in the season, and everything is constantly changing. The next few weeks will hopefully give us a better picture of where things are headed and what this summer might look like. We will continue to re-evaluate our program offerings and keep you updated as the situation continues to evolve.

 

Thank you for your continued patience and support!

 

Cool Sharks team leadership and coaches

 

 

 

March 24, 2020:

Garden Hills continues to monitor the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation with state and local authorities, along with guidance from the Atlanta Swimming Association (ASA), Georgia Swimming, and our Garden Hills Pool board. As always, our priority is to do what is in the best interests of our swimmers, families, team, and community.

 

We have decided to cancel our Spring Stroke Clinic and Shark Pups Session 1 (April). All registrations for these programs will be cancelled and refunded. Because of the large volume of refunds, please allow a week or two to receive your refund. Your patience is appreciated!

 

Registration is still open for our Summer Swim Team and for Sessions 2, 3, and 4 of our Shark Pups junior team. We are in wait-and-see mode regarding the pool status for May. Everything is contingent upon the most current CDC recommendations and potential governmental decisions which may impact us. We will keep you informed.

 

Please see the following message from Franke Marsden, our ASA league director:

 

 

Will There Be a Swim Season?

 

YES, our plan is to have a swim season, we have a decent amount of time to work with before we have to make any decisions regarding the season. If the trajectory of the virus plays out in the US as it has in countries that were exposed earlier in the year, we should hopefully be coming out of the woods in time to have a season. That season may be delayed in starting and finishing. It may require a changed format for the championship meet if we can have one. We are keeping all options on the table and will keep you informed of any news as it develops. I feel strongly, as I hope you all do, that a modified or even shortened season is better than no season. More importantly, our sport will be a welcome opportunity for everyone to re-engage in their lives with their communities and neighbors.

 

Dates for our new swimmer evaluations will be rescheduled once we know more about the start of our season. We will let you know as soon as new dates have been set.

 

Many of you have asked about private lessons this spring. We are unable to schedule lessons at this time. As soon as we can determine when the pool will be ready and when lessons can safely be offered, we will let you know. For now we are in wait-and-see mode on this as well.

 

We are still early in the season, and the next few weeks will hopefully give us a better picture of where things are headed and what this season might look like. We will continue to re-evaluate our program offerings and keep you updated as the situation continues to evolve.

 

Thank you for your continued patience and support!

 

 

Cool Sharks team leadership and coaches

March 16, 2020:

 

Garden Hills is closely monitoring the quickly evolving COVID-19 situation and we are taking actions to promote the safety of our Cool Sharks community. We will continue to monitor the CDC and other organizations for updates and will make adjustments and provide additional communications as necessary. We also continue to receive guidance from the ASA swim league and will follow their recommendations as well.

 

As of now, all Cool Sharks activities are on as scheduled. The decision to attend and participate in activities is a family decision that parents should make based upon your own health circumstances and in consultation with medical professionals as needed.

 

If we make a team decision to cancel any programs, we will provide refunds for all registered swimmers. If we decide to postpone the start of a program, we will prorate fees accordingly. If you make the individual decision to withdraw your child from any program which is still being offered, you may do so before the start of the program for a full refund (just email us). After the program starts, you will be subject to our regular refund policy (although we plan to be very flexible about refunds related to this situation, and these rules could change).

 

 

The CDC posted their findings on COVID-19 and swimming pools:

 

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?

 

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/water.html

 

 

For now, these are the steps we plan to take for our April practices:

 

  • In an effort to limit the number of people in the pool area, we will not be allowing parents to watch practice from the pool deck. You are welcome to drop off your child and remain outside the facility or return home. Welcome to Swim Team and Shark Pups parents will be allowed to come inside but must remain on the upper part of the wooden deck (behind the baby pool). 

  • We ask that all swimmers come to the facility already in their swimsuits and limit their use of locker rooms for restroom visits only.

  • Swimmers and their families should not linger at the pool or playground. Please arrive shortly before your practice and leave as soon as your practice is finished.

  • Please conduct your own health evaluation on your swimmer prior to attending practice. If they do not feel well and/or have a fever, then please do not allow them to attend practice. We will be empowering our coaches and staff to send anyone home who appears ill or displays any symptoms of the virus. This includes coughing or sneezing. We have implemented this protocol for all Cool Sharks staff as well.

  • If your child (or anyone in your household) has been around someone infected by COVID-19, or if your child (or anyone in your household) has recently traveled abroad, please self-quarantine and stay home from the pool for 14 days (following CDC guidelines). Please contact us to discuss the possibility of a refund in these situations.

  • We encourage all families to educate themselves about coronavirus and direct them to the Centers for Disease Control to learn more. 

 

In the event of ongoing school closures, public event closures, or other changes in circumstances, Garden Hills will take any recommendation by the CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, and Fulton Board of Health very seriously. We realize this is a very fluid situation and will continue to re-evaluate our program offerings and protective measures and provide updates.

 

Thanks for your continued support as we work to keep the health and safety of our Cool Sharks and Shark Pups our number one priority, while hoping to continue providing swim programs for our Sharks this spring.

 

Cool Sharks team leadership and coaches

© 2017 Garden Hills Cool Sharks. 

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