COVID-19's Impact On Arizona And New York Open Water

COVID-19’s Impact On Arizona And New York Open Water

COVID-19’s Impact On Arizona And New York Open Water

Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

With the global coronavirus pandemic surging, the number of confirmed cases in United States is now greater than any other country in the world (85,505). See data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center here.

But hope reigns.

David Barra of New York Open Water explains about the upcoming New York summer schedule that stretches from May to October, “The situation is changing daily, so it’s too soon to speculate what may be possible for the 2020 season. Naturally, we are hoping that the show can go on, so we are trying to remain optimistic by not pulling the plug until it is absolutely necessary. We will assess again by April 15th.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Kent Nicholas of the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge in Arizona.

He explains, “Arizona seems to be slow to react to the virus, but since I was in New York picking up my daughter from college I’m into my 8th day of self-quarantine. It was shortly after my decision to postpone SCAR 2020 that Arizona services began to disappear such as access to public pools and lakes. It was a difficult decision to make at the time but in retrospect, absolutely the only decision I could make given the pandemic’s exponential growth even over the last week.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Judging from the current situation, does SCAR event in April plan to proceed as planned?

Kent Nicholas: I was in New York when I made the decision to postpone SCAR 2020. Driving a rental car, it was amazing to see 5th Avenue in Manhattan abandoned. It wasn’t an easy decision to postpone SCAR because open water swimmers pride themselves on new challenges and charging forward. We are not sheep. The unknown risks of this virus presented a situation that in my opinion required postponement. The United States federal government, through the U.S. Forest Service, grants our SCAR swim permits. It has put a hold on all gatherings and has closed lakes in Arizona which would foreclose SCAR. So even if I wanted to charge forward, I could not. SCAR is dependent on many factors which must align for us to pull off a swim of this nature and a swim permit is the basis of that calculus.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: If swimmers have already paid their fees and escort boats, what do you recommend they do?

Kent Nicholas: Applicants at SCAR expressly agree to a “no refund” policy which also includes no transfers to other swimmers and no rolling-the-swim-over to another year. I only accept swimmers that fully understand what they are getting into when they apply for SCAR given the limited number of swimmers we can accommodate. We are allowing SCAR swimmers to roll the swims over during a two-year window to compete the swims because of these exceptional circumstances with the virus. I’ve had two people ask about refunds out of a group of 80 swimmers so an overwhelming majority of swimmers are on board with what we are doing to remedy the issue.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How late in the year can athletes cancel for any reason?

Kent Nicholas: Since SCAR is postponed, the opportunity for swimmers to cancel is moot. They will get another shot at these Arizona swims in the future. It will make managing the number of swimmers more challenging in 2021 and 2022, but my crew is solid and we’ll make it work.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What do you recommend the open water swimmers – especially channel and marathon swimmers – do at this time given what we know and do not know?

Kent Nicholas: Swimmers have it tough right now, but training isn’t limited to the pool. In Arizona, we have closed pools and lakes. I’ve personally started an online yoga class and a series of dryland workouts. I ride my bike on the canal banks farther than I’ve ever ridden. In retrospect, this break may be needed by many of the “burned out” masters swimmers I often run into. I expect swimmers to really embrace the sport as pools and lakes reopen to the public. I think swimmers will appreciate and focus more on the sport rather than taking it for granted. I think many swimmers could come back in better all-around shape. It’s a pause in training that we didn’t expect or want, but the pause may be very beneficial in the long run. I’m very optimistic.

For more information on New York Open Water’s events that include the 2 Bridges Swim Under the Walkway (May 30th), Terry Laughlin Celebration Swim (TBD), 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim (June 26th to July 3rd), 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Circumnavigation (June 4th to September 4th), 40 Bridges Manhattan Island Circumnavigation (September 30th to October 4th), and Spuyten Duyvil 10K (September 13th), visit

For more information on S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge, visit

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Steven Munatones