USA Swimming Releases Guidelines On Reopening Facilities

USA Swimming has released guidelines for reopening facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic, offering general practices to maintain social distancing while getting swimmers back in the pool.

The guidelines, of course, are contingent on following local, state and federal public health guidelines.

“We believe swimming, like walking, hiking, running, and cycling, is a critical healthy activity within our communities,” the organization writes in the document. “Swimming does not require direct contact between teammates or coaches and social distancing can be maintained throughout practice. As with all exercise and activity at this time, swimming must comply with standards for social distancing and safety within aquatic facilities.

“We know, with collaboration between USA Swimming coaches, public health officials, and facility operators we can create safe plans for using aquatic facilities to promote physical and mental health opportunities compliant with public health directives. The CDC has indicated that there is no evidence the disease spreads through treated water. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”

The first recommendation made by USA Swimming is that each club designates a COVID-19 liaison that is “responsible for staying up to date on community and state recommendations and any associated changes.”

It then goes through questions the facility owners need to ask themselves, including state/municipality limits for gatherings, the potential capacity of the facility while following these guidelines, and whether or not they’ve familiarized themselves with both the OSHA COVID-19 return to work guidelines and the White House guidelines.

The document follows by outlining how to mitigate hazards, utilizing safe practices, communication with athletes and families, and programmatic considerations. It also outlines general practices for athletes to follow before, during and after practice, including leaving the facility “as soon as reasonably possible after practice,” including showering at home.

At the bottom of the document, there are four sample pool diagrams showing starting and ending points in sets that keep the athletes socially distant. It shows how to do so with 12, 18 and 27 swimmers in a six-lane, 25-yard pool, and 60 swimmers in a 10-lane, 50-meter pool.

Finally, it shows a sample of how to have a group of swimmers assemble on deck prior/after a workout, remaining six feet apart.

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2 years ago

It’s all political, open the pools up

2 years ago

Unpopular opinion: as much as I love this sport and I love coaching…this model is not realistic for 85% teams out there and is not a sustainable, practical business model to keep money and revenue in the doors.

2 years ago

I think this should be Short Course Summer. No way I want my daughter trying to train for long course after being out of the water for two months. High school kids didn’t get a SC taper meet this year because of Trials. Maybe USA Swimming should change their focus to that just so kids can try and get back into shape before the fall gets here. We know that the focus will shift back to LC as soon as everyone is convinced this is under control.

Agreed on it will be tougher on some kids based on where they live. I didn’t realize how much of my daughter’s life was tied to her friends on the team and spending… Read more »

Coach D
2 years ago

USA Swimming is one of the largest, if not the largest youth sports program in the country. Now that they have a set of guidelines, it would be great if they started lobbying the government for their constituents to be able to return to pool. Government sees a pool without lanes lines and kids in tubes horsing around in close proximity. These guidelines show that we can safely return. The return to the pool is very important to mental and physical health of ALL swimmers. USA Swimming is paying their employees through this time, and we are appreciative of that. Please step up and help your members continue to exist. Clearly there is no guarantee, but the effort would be… Read more »

2 years ago

The problem is the cities and schools who operate the pools. In our area, schools are closed and not able to open until June 30th. Most city pools are rumored to not be opening. So, even if you could do this safely, there is no place to do it.

Steve Johnson
Reply to  Matt
2 years ago

There is no actual evidence that 6 feet is a safe distance. However, there is lots of evidence that a more realistic safe distance is close to 5 meters, or 16 feet. This is particularly true in an environment where people people forcefully exhale. In addition, all the examples showed pool with 8 ft wide lanes, where many older pools are actually only 7 feet or less. Other issues, such as quarantine for all swimmers in a swim group if a member tests positive, or without adequate testing if a member has any symptoms, were not addressed at all. Since most pools used by USA teams are also used by the public, maintaining any sort of distance will be a… Read more »

Reply to  Steve Johnson
2 years ago

There may never be an effective vaccine, and if one can be developed, it will almost certainly take longer than the 12-18 month timeline that always comes up in news reports.

The reality is that we will have to live with this virus circulating and potentially causing new outbreaks until there’s herd immunity (which may come primarily from vaccines or due to naturally-transmitted cases).

2 years ago

Those diagrams with pool configurations and various swimmer loads are not helpful. Show us what a lane of moving swimmers would look like (video animation or use live models), which direction they should be breathing (if all breathe to left on way down and right on way back they will never exhale facing their lane mates or the swimmer opposite them in the next lane), how much time or distance between swimmers leaving the wall, where to face at conclusion of a swim when you’re breathing heavily, stuff like that. I don’t see how any age group program with more than 5 swimmers per shortcourse lane could possibly function in accordance with spacing guidelines. Probably need to stagger athletes over… Read more »

Swim mom
Reply to  StrokeDoc
2 years ago

Yeah, that’s what I thought too . It’s really impossible for swimmers to have social distance while they all stop at the wall . The main point is not the virus will spread through water but it will spread among swimmers . Unless like any regulations one swimmer per lane , that’s definitely can’t work . We all really want our swimmers go back to practice but the risk for them carry it to others at home or themselves too risky because it will have a big effect to their lung where the most important part for swimmers. Better save than sorry 😐

Swim Dad
Reply to  StrokeDoc
2 years ago

Easy solution on the breathing, ban freestyle. The other strokes breathe up or forwards, not in the direction of other swimmers. Just kidding, btw. Struggled with the diagrams as well, couldn’t make heads or tails out of the colors or how 60 could fit in a pool and all be swimming at different speeds. Fantastic that USA Swimming put something out though, something that we can all take to our local clubs and more importantly, our local governments.

Reply to  StrokeDoc
2 years ago

Trying to stagger swimmers within the lane during sets will be especially challenging with younger and more developmental swimmers, who can have a wide range of speeds even within their practice groups.

2 years ago

Tough to see how developmental and learn to swim programs will be able to function in the next year.

2 years ago

Let’s gooooooooooo

Reply to  Anonymous
2 years ago

I agree let’s go let’s go let’s go . Feeling likea fish out of water . Being. In the Chlorine is probably one of the best places to be lol swimming around in bleach basically

Reply to  Tammy
2 years ago

Being in chlorinated water seems to be fine but all studies and all data say it is not good to be around other people. We’ve had 67,000 positively identified deaths in two months. That death count is with some measures like social distancing and stay-at-home orders. What happens when social distancing weakens (like standing in a lane waiting to start, with two, three, four, five other people, all exhaling) and states open up? Probably hundreds of thousands will be asymptomatic carriers; others, especially anyone with a compromised immune system, will get sick or die. Maybe remdisivir will be a positive anti-viral but it’s “promise” is to reduce the amount of time in quarantine or help reduce time in the hospital.… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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