A swimmer trains at Schoenbrunner Bad public swimming pool on the first day of reopening following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria, May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

On March 12, when USA Swimming announced that all competitions and sanctioned camps were canceled for an indefinite period, more than a thousand athletes were gearing up for their shot at qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Suddenly, all levels of athletes found themselves without a pool to train in and with no teammates to compete against. Only eight days later, USA Swimming was the first sport to ask the United States Olympic Committee to delay the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, initially scheduled to start July 24. The qualifying meet, the Olympic Time Trials, was originally scheduled for June 21-28 in Omaha. 

Public pools started reopening this month amid summer heat and safer-at-home orders. Professional sports, like Major League Baseball, recently announced plans to return. But where does swimming stand in respect to both competitive and leisure activities? Does chlorine prevent the virus from spreading? 

Just like any other sports team, swimmers are at risk of spreading viruses, including COVID-19. The official CDC guidance calls for the standard steps of handwashing, face coverings, social distancing, and increased cleaning. The virus cannot survive and spread through the water itself, whether chlorinated or not. However, close contact anywhere, including pools, can spread the respiratory disease above and around the water.

Public and private pools now face financial challenges as income from memberships and day passes take a deep dive. The city of New York expects to save $12 million by keeping pools closed over the summer.

Texas is facing one of the largest spikes of coronavirus cases. On Friday, lifeguards employed by the city of Austin, one of the largest aquatic divisions in the U.S, asked the city to close pools for the summer.

With record temperatures and Independence Day approaching, is it safe to go to a pool or beach? With proper social distancing and masks, pools are as safe as other outdoor activities.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

‘It’s a social lifeline’: swimmers frustrated as UK lidos stay shut – The Guardian – 6/26/2020
Lido regulars are also alert to the danger that, with pools closed, inexperienced swimmers may be more tempted by unguarded open water, while the RNLI and other agencies have reiterated safety warnings after a spate of drownings, including the death of a 10-year-old boy at Loch Lubnaig in the Scottish Highlands on Wednesday. As well as the more evident health and wellbeing benefits of open-air exercise, Pusill suggests lidos attracts people who would not ordinarily use indoor pools, making them more female- and family-friendly. “They are less intimidating, there’s less lane-raiding,” she says.

Does Heat, Sun Kill Coronavirus? FAQ About COVID-19 In The Summer Answered By Dr. Mallika Marshall – CBS Boston – 6/25/2020
The most important thing, again, is to try to keep distance between you and people who don’t live in your household. So, if you’re going to a crowded public pool, not a great idea. But if you can find a public pool you can go during hours when it’s not that crowded, and you can actually space apart at least six feet, even when you’re in the pool, then that is probably okay.

Berlin Coach In Plea To Resume Training At Outdoor Pools – Swimming World News – 6/26/2020
“All players in sport must be equally considered and supported. In addition, commercial sport must not be disadvantaged compared to other industries. Every existence counts in the face of this severe crisis. In our view, resuming swimming training in the Berlin summer pools is possible and can be implemented even if various important safety measures are observed. Other federal states show us how.”

Kentucky pools prepare to reopen next week under COVID-19 guidelines – WKYT – 6/26/2020
According to state guidelines, recreational swimming facilities must pass a health department inspection before they can reopen. “Making sure they have chlorine, disinfectant is at proper levels, ph of the water, alkalinity, also safety, make sure their safety equipment is in place,” Franey said. “With the COVID, we’ll be looking for things like social distancing.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

BBC Sport Wales on Twitter, 6/26/2020: Two time Olympic silver medallist and former European and Commonwealth champion Jazz Carlin is calling for public swimming pools to be reopened.🏊‍♀️

Ken Hanscom on Twitter, 6/26/2020: 1. In an alternate universe, this week was set to be an epic week of Olympic sports for @TeamUSA. College World Series & US Swimming in Omaha leading into the USA Gymnastics this weekend in St. Louis. Was planning to attend and already looking forward (hopefully) to next year.

Austin 360 on Twitter, 6/26/2020: A group of Austin lifeguards have penned a letter asking that pools remain closed while coronavirus cases continue to increase in the city. Read the story here:

SwimSwam on Twitter, 6/26/2020: The Trials That Would Have Been: Manuel’s 100 Free Highlights Day 6 Events

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