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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Teddy
1 year ago

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
Reply to  Teddy
1 year ago

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
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

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.

Admin
Reply to  Three Time Swim Mom
1 year ago

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

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

Tm71
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

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

Icanfreezetime
Reply to  Tm71
1 year ago

Will be worse for teams without a home pool.

Teddy
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

Agree

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Teddy
1 year ago

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
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

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
Reply to  Justin Thompson
1 year ago

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.

Steph
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

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 »

Norm
Reply to  Steph
1 year ago

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.

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

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

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Teddy
1 year ago

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

Johnson
1 year ago

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

Johnson
1 year ago

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

Jessica WJ
1 year ago

This was very much needed. Now please open the pools!

Texas Dad
Reply to  Jessica WJ
1 year ago

3 kids died in whole USA Of the virus and only 2500 got virus, 800 kids drowned last year in US Might be focused on wrong issue

ckindc
Reply to  Texas Dad
1 year ago

That was 3 kids as of April 6, 2020. At least 20 children have died. Here is an update: At least 201 infected children under age 18 have been admitted into pediatric intensive care units in the U.S., according to data from a national registry called Virtual Pediatric Systems. And at least 20 people under the age of 20 have died from the coronavirus. In New York state, which has the largest number of children severely affected by the virus, 10 children who tested positive had died as of April 30, and at least 56 children had been admitted into pediatric intensive care units.

Across the U.S., more than 24,000 children have tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to… Read more »

Anonymous
1 year ago

Let’s gooooooooooo

Tammy
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year 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

Drylander
Reply to  Tammy
1 year 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 »

Fish
1 year ago

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

StrokeDoc
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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.

Kate
Reply to  StrokeDoc
1 year 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.

Matt
1 year 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
1 year 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 »

Kate
Reply to  Steve Johnson
1 year 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).

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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