The coronavirus pandemic has completely transformed so many routine activities – among them, swim meets.
In Illinois, girls high school swimming is a fall sport. And as in every state with fall swimming & diving, teams have had to adjust to a whole host of new wrinkles to meets. We received some meet info about an IHSA section meet in Illinois this weekend – and for the benefit of teams in other states trying to predict what a COVID-adjusted season might look like, we’ll run through a few of the key points:
Masks on deck
While swimming or diving in a mask isn’t possible, most meet rules require athletes and coaches to wear masks at all times when not competing. The Illinois rules are no exception: athletes are to wear masks while waiting for their heat, take them off to swim or dive, and then put them back on upon crawling out of the pool. The rules allow disqualifications to anyone who doesn’t follow the mask policy.
Warmups in home pools – one-way sprints at meet site
In this particular meet, teams are asked to warm up in their home pools before arriving to the competition site. This obviously can’t be done everywhere, especially when teams in a meet are spread out geographically. But it’s a potential adjustment for teams without a lengthy bus ride to the competition site.
In the Illinois format, the competition pool opens for one-way sprints in two roughly 20-minute sessions before the meet. That creates a one-way traffic flow and prevents teams from intermingling too much. (Each team is assigned to one lane for their sprints).
On-Deck Capacity Limits
The Illinois meet only allows athletes on the pool deck for their specific events. Before each event, athletes are called to the deck from their team area. After the event, they head back to their team area before the next event’s swimmers are called.
Meanwhile each team is only allowed one coach on deck at a time, but teams can swap which coach is on deck during event transitions. The team areas have a video feed to watch the meet when they’re not on deck.
Warm-downs after each event
Athletes are allowed to warm down in their respective lanes after their event – the distance allowed isn’t yet specified in the version of protocols we saw.
Meet protocols now include a strict set of sanitizing rules. In the Illinois protocols, there’s one timer for each lane, and that timer uses a spray bottle to sanitize the starting blocks after each race.
The protocols also call for sanitizing the 500 free lap counters between each race. For diving, each diver is responsible for sanitizing the railings of the diving board before their dive.