Swimming Canada Releases Return To Swimming Framework

Swimming Canada has released its official COVID-19 Return to Swimming Framework, outlining their recommendations for athletes’ return to training and competition. The 22-page document was put together by a 16-person Working Group and 13-person coaching sub-committee and released on Friday, May 29, 2020.

  • The full document and press release can be accessed here.
  • Framework document can be read here.
  • An FAQ can be seen here.

The document sets out Swimming Canada’s 4-step framework for returning to the pool. Step 1 will allow programs to admit a “small controlled group” to return to the pool, to be selected based on the following priority levels:

  1. Olympic/Paralympic Targeted Athletes
  2. Senior Carded Athletes
  3. Development Carded Athletes
  4. Senior National Qualifiers
  5. Other swimmers based on specific program demographics (including Masters swimmers)

Included in Step 1 is a recommendation that all athletes and staff be provided a “Training Session Procedure” complete with a clear indication of:

  1. Entry point to the facility for all participants
  2. Pathway to the pool, changeroom and other training facilities
  3. Departure process for all participants

Further, the framework provides a list of coaching recommendations for Step 1.

ex. “Coaches and athletes should recognize the potential health implication of reduced training volumes experienced during the COVID-10 pandemic. Many athletes will have experiences diminished strength, conditioning, and endurance capacity during their prolonged time away from swimming. To reduce the risk of overtraining injuries, it is advisable, to begin with, a gradual resumption of training, with the initial focus on low intensity and technique. If available, follow the advice of you local support team for advice in this area.”

Following Step 1, which will last for a minimum of 3 weeks, programs will progress to Step 2 in which larger group sizes will be permitted to train. It is recommended that for both Step 1 and Step 2, programs set a limit of 1 swimmer per lane for at least 3 weeks. Specifics on Training Session Procedure and Coaching recommendations for Step will be compiled and released at a future date, based on the results of Step 1.

Step 1 and Step 2 combined will be completed in a minimum of 6 weeks, with the potential for programs to take longer than that depending on their success with the process. Procedures for Step 3 and Step 4; return to full training, will be provided in subsequent editions of the Return to Swimming Resource Document.

To conclude, Swimming Canada informs that “the competitive environment (training and competition venues) should be continually assessed to ensure precautions are taken to minimize the risk to the swimmers, and those attending events as spectators.” Guidelines on Swimming Canada’s return to competition will follow as facilities re-open and clubs return to training.

Of the plan, Swimming Canada High-Performance Director, John Atkinson said

“This is a Canadian-made plan to show the way forward to return to swimming training. Our top athletes will have the responsibility of being the first groups back in the water, leading the implementation of the best practices to maintain health and safety. It will not happen overnight. With a successful implementation of step one, we ask other groups to show patience so they can be part of a sustainable return that leads to steps two and three, and so on. The next step in the return to swimming will be each provincial section’s development of their return to sport plan. Once provincial section plans are in place, clubs can then complete development of their specific plans. We look forward to seeing a sustained return throughout Canada when the time is right from a health and safety perspective.”

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Martin Sparkes

How does this apply to programs with no athletes ranked as per the guidelines? We have Junior national swimmers and I would expect them to be back in the water as soon as our local facility opens again.