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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It’s going to be tough for swimmers in jurisdictions with stricter lockdowns to remain competitive

The difference between someone full of steroids and someone clean might be less than between two athletes where one has been training for seven months and the other, one month

Irish Ringer

Agree, but at least some are able to return to the pool. It’s unfortunate that we can’t open training up to everyone at once, but at least progress is being made. The decisions on whether or not to open appear to be largely based on data about the virus and it’s impact to each community. Its just the fact of the matter that some areas are hit harder than others. The area I live in hasn’t been hit hard at all, but the city made the decision to close all public outdoor pools through the summer.

Three Time Swim Mom

It will also depend on whether the team owns its own pool or whether they are dependent upon a city or county government to decide to open or whether as in our case, a university pool that has no students to act as lifeguards. Our team has lost its pool until the fall, if then. We are hoping a neighboring city 40 miles away will allow us to rent space at theirs but with occupancy limitations I’m not hopeful.

And, for that matter, who that city or county government is.

In Mission Viejo, for example, Brian Goodell is mayor. That helps.


Which means a lot of the teams in the Bay Area might not train in the pool till the fall


Will be worse for teams without a home pool.



Ol' Longhorn

This argument assumes that those jurisdictions who open more quickly aren’t then going to have a resurgence of cases. Is a swimmer better off never getting sick and missing another month in the water, but able to train dryland, or be back in the water, get a respiratory infection and being laid up with that? We don’t know yet. Everyone is walking around Piedmont Park in Atlanta today with no social distancing and no masks. I’d take my long-term chances on doing more dryland in that scenario.

Justin Thompson

If it were just another month that would be fine, but you know it will much longer than a month for most. Social distancing didn’t get rid of the virus it only slowed the rate of exposure. At some point you either let it run its course or wait for a vaccine.

Ol' Longhorn

The rush is to reopen. Every state will be well past peak infection risk in a month. There will undoubtedly be a second wave, but it won’t be nearly as severe, and testing and tracing should be in place by then. At my very busy hospital in the largest medical center in the world, once everyone was required to wear a mask, transmission from COVID-19 patients to doctors and staff went to zero. You go out, wear a mask. And, just a reminder, you may wait your lifetime for a vaccine to be developed. It’s not a guarantee, and there are several examples of failed vaccine efforts for other diseases.


I’m a physician who work in a hospital dealing with alot of COVID infections. To say that once you have a mask on, transmission went to zero at the hospital is wrong. Hospital have guidelines and protective equipments in placed to protect healthcare workers. Despite all that, there are not even enough N95 masks or gowns or gears for all the healthcare workers. We are now “reprocessing” N95 masks to re-use when it really is a one time usage. How would non-medical people get N95 masks to effectively protect them? Cloth masks and non-N95 do not block the virus. As for testing, there is still not enough available to test everyone. And tracing is not easily done at this time… Read more »


The best thing we can do is LET IT RUN, especially in this hearty and healthy demographic. Let ‘me swim, if they catch it and spread it to teammates so be it. They will recover and be inoculated. This idea we can suspend life for an undetermined time is insane.


That’s….really not what the data is saying, especially in terms of kids, water, outdoors, etc.

Ol' Longhorn

Easy solution: let the one-month swimmer use PEDs.


I like what’ USA swimming is educating us on how to be safer if we practice together


I love what’ USA swimming is educating us on how to make the meeting of swimming safe again.

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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