Are Pools Covid-Safe?

Are Pools Covid-Safe?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

At least in California, there are still strict limits on public pool use by swimmers and water polo players in terms of duration and number of people in the pool. In many places, pool time is limited to 40-45 minutes per person with 1-2 people per lane maximum, and restrictions to avoid swimmers being in the same location at the same time.

But this is not true everywhere. Private pools and counties throughout the United States don’t have such restrictions.

So what is the best method to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when it comes to swimming pool regulations?” wondered Steven Munatones. “Because swimmers are in a humid, chlorinated environment, I would think the probability of contracting the virus in a pool – especially when the locker rooms and restrooms are off limits and the pool facilities are cleaned and sanitized every hour – is nearly zero.

I have not heard of a virus breakout in any pool or aquatic facility. But I wonder if there has been? Please contact the World Open Water Swimming Association at contact via email at [email protected] if anyone has heard of a virus breakout at an aquatic facility.”

What if the swimming community used the same scientific method used by scientists, academics, physicians, and researchers for centuries? Perhaps the community can come to a reasonable conclusion.

The scientific method includes five basic steps, plus one feedback step:

  1. Make an observation.
  2. Ask a question.
  3. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
  4. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
  5. Test the prediction.
  6. Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

In the case of swimming pools, perhaps this process makes sense…

  1. Observation: no known transmission of COVID-19 virus has been documented as a result of swimming in a chlorinated pool.
  2. Question: is swimming in a pool safe? Or, alternatively, is the probability of transmitting or catching the COVID-19 virus non-existent – or lower than on dryland?
  3. Hypothesis: the chlorinated environment kills pathogens upon contact, rendering the threat of transmission of the COVID-19 virus to be zero or much lower than on dryland.
  4. Prediction: swimmers are at a much lower risk swimming in a chlorinated pool versus doing anything in a home or public area (especially retail locations) or schools.
  5. Prediction: transmission rates of swimmers who swim regularly are lower than non-swimmers. Or alternatively, there are zero or very few cases of transmission that can be documented at swimming facilities.
  6. New hypothesis: people are at a significantly lower risk exercising in a chlorinated pool than in any other recreational location.

Swimming scientists and researchers can send their comments, corrections, and recommendations to [email protected] on this topic.

If these hypotheses, assumptions and perspectives are incorrect, please share your observations, data and opinions with us.

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