“The swim school’s closed. We were actually on spring break. We were scheduled to reopen on March 16 at the end of that break. That’s when the stay-at-home order from the governor came through. So, we never reopened from our spring break.

“My wife did the second payroll of PPP for our instructors that were furloughed. We had some major expenses during that time, and so it’s been difficult financially. We’re into our personal savings now to help keep the business afloat.

“It’s a bleak outlook. We have a 55,000-gallon indoor pool. And the best we can do under the guidelines, beginning June 1, is to have five students in that facility at one time. We would normally have about 20.

“We can do it for a short period of time, but it’s not anything we can do long term and keep the doors open.

“They say you can only have 10 people in a group at one time. Well, in what size area? Because I’ll tell you the grocery stores have more than 10. The big box stores have more than 10.

“We have a very large footprint. So, we don’t know if we can have more than 10 or if there’s no relationship between the size of the group and the square footage that you have. I’ve never seen that defined.

“I swam as a young kid, then in high school. I did not end up swimming in college, but when I got done with school I went back and was teaching and coaching with my coach that I swam for in high school. And then the building became available. I happen to know the people that owned [the original Bloomington High School], so I called them up and they didn’t have any plans for the pool, so I redirected my career.

“Our daughter swam for the University of Illinois for four years, so she’d be one of our more accomplished swimmers. A lot of the swimmers that we train have gone on and are swimming in colleges in different parts of the country. Those are primarily kids that I coached in the club environment. Some of them came to the school, some did not, but we’ve had pretty good success.

“We created a customer survey and have been going through the results today and there’s a lot of concern with the safety issue of coming back. We’re going to have to be dealing with that. Now the good news is, the CDC from the very beginning has indicated that the swimming pools are safe because of the disinfection, the chlorine and the other things. They’re not worried about the virus spreading in the water. However, I think there will be concerns with some parents, especially with young children, as to the safety of coming back and being in a group setting with other children. So that’s unfortunate.

“We do all the disinfecting. We have hand sanitizer machines on the wall, so I think we can operate in a safe way with certain restrictions in the beginning, just to kind of get the ball rolling. But we can’t keep it to a maximum 10 and sustain our business long term.

“The state is in so much debt and I just don’t see the progressive income tax helping long term. I just don’t know how much more people can be taxed and remain in business. Under these circumstances with the social distancing and the constraints on small business and then also looking at additional pressure, financially, with a progressive income tax? I just think people are going to continue trying to justify ways to leave the state.

“I think that all businesses in Illinois are essential and should be open for business.

“If the businesses that have been classified as essential are operating in a way that the governor feels is safe for the businesses, the employees and the customers, then we should have the right to do the same thing. If the big box stores and the grocery stores and the drugstores and all the other stores that have been deemed essential can do it, then we believe we have the constitutional right to do the same.”

Rob Knight
Owner, Rob Knight’s Swim America
Bloomington, Illinois