Minnesotans Do Laps in Wisconsin Around Walz’s Pool Shutdown

Gov. Tim Walz may have shut down Minnesota’s swimming pools and fitness centers again. But it didn’t take long for dedicated swimmers to start doing laps around the governor’s latest off-target attempt to contain COVID.

For months Minnesotans have flocked to towns just across the border in Wisconsin for a taste of life as we used to know it before Walz assumed emergency powers. Now the Pioneer Press reports Minnesotans who are competitive swimmers or rely on the sport to stay in shape are also making the trip to the wide open facilities in the Badger State.

The swimmers, locked out of pools in their own state, travel east in search of fitness centers, hotels and schools that have swimming pools. There, they stand in lines to get what they can’t get in Minnesota — a total-body aquatic workout.

“Right now we are fish out of water,” said Scott Tripps, owner of Genesis Aquatics, which coaches about 300 teenagers, adults and and tri-athletes.

Fitness buffs feel whipsawed by Gov. Tim Walz, who shut down the state’s fitness centers in March, re-opened them June 10, and shut them down again Nov. 20 due to the pandemic.

A  check of the YMCA’s website confirms the group’s Minnesota fitness centers closed down “to take a pause” under Walz’s orders on November 20.

Minnesota Governor Walz announced a series of COVID-19 restrictions because the increase in cases has hospital capacity and staffing at a breaking point as he explained. Our Y collaborates closely with state government officials and health partners and our support is critical to help our community.

Yet the website helpfully points out that the Y facility across the bridge from Stillwater on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River still takes all comers.

The Hudson, WI YMCA remains open at this time. We will continue to monitor Wisconsin COVID-19 restrictions and adjust appropriately. When visiting this location, please be sure to wear your mask, as they are required and follow safety guidelines.

The overflow crowd of Minnesotans desperate to get in the water has been overwhelming for the past couple weeks.

The Hudson YMCA has seen the rush. Every weekday, Minnesota swimmers line up hours before dawn. At 5 a.m. the doors open — they plunge into the pool, two swimmers in each of the six lanes.

YMCA spokeswoman Joan Schimml said most of the Hudson Y’s programs are operating normally, albeit with mask-wearing and limitations on personal contact.

But the rush of swimmers has taken them by surprise. In response to the Minnesota migrations, she said, the Y is setting up a new reservation system for the lap pool, to be started in the next few weeks.

Minnesota’s emergency shutdown of YMCAs and other fitness centers expires on December 18, unless Walz extends it. But there is a bright side. At least Minnesotans don’t have to traipse all the way over to Wisconsin just to get a Christmas tree, according to the YMCA’s website.

Trees are ordered and our volunteers are ready to help you find the perfect tree. Find lot locations, hours and learn more about the program here.