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High school swimmers protest ban on team practices at Salt Lake County pools

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SALT LAKE CITY — More than 30 swimmers from high school teams across Salt Lake County participated in a swimmers protest Friday outside the county government building on 2100 South and State Street. They want Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson to lift the ban on team practices at county pools.

Mountain Ridge High School senior Audrey Pierce learned about the ban from her coach a couple of days ago.

Then, she helped put together the swimmers protest and drove up from Herriman to take part.

The ban is meant to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

But Pierce argues that doesn't make sense because the teams follow public health guidelines.

"We're monitored by coaches, who are making sure we're taking cleansing showers and staying 6 feet apart and wearing our masks," Pierce said.

If swimmers want to use county pools, they now have to buy individual passes. That means they're also swimming with the general public.

And Pierce says some members of the public, unlike her swim team, do not follow public health guidelines.

It can also get expensive for individual swimmers to practice on their own, as opposed to teams booking time at the pool together.

Others at Friday's protest argued the ban is unfair because high schools with pools on campus allow their teams to practice together.

In addition to the protest, swimmers sent letters to Wilson asking her to overturn the ban.

"I really hope that the mayor sees that we're responsible enough and that we believe in our purpose," Pierce said at the protest. "And we need these bans to be lifted. We really need to practice. We need to be able to practice and meet in these pools."

Wilson responded to the swimmers in a statement late Friday: "The County's senior leadership team and our health authorities are meeting Monday morning to specifically review school teams' use of our facilities … as we continue to review and refine facility guidelines during this critical period of COVID-19 response."

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