Sharing Pool Time...Maybe Next Time?

Sharing Pool Time…Maybe Next Time?

Sharing Pool Time…Maybe Next Time?

Commentary by WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, community lockdowns and restrictions on swimming in open bodies of water and in swimming pools throughout the United States caused major changes in the lifestyles and training habits of swimmers. Swimmers were disappointed and felt frustrated, but followed the local mandates as good citizens.

While countries in Europe and Asia had more nationwide policies and consistent mandates, it has been frustrating for many swimmers (and citizens) to see the significant differences in pool and open water swimming regulations that ranged from city to city, school to school, area to area, and state to state in the United States. Some schools and teams were able to train normally while other schools and teams – even in the same cities or areas – were restricted or prevented from training. Governing bodies were unable to assist because there were differences between what could occur in the facilities on public school grounds and private school grounds, what was allowed in public facilities versus private facilities. Interpretations of the local, municipal, county and state mandates differed.

Some pools allowed for no swimming, other pools allowed for 1 swimmer per lane, other pools allowed for 2 or 3 or 4 swimmers per lane.

Swimmers and coaches did what they thought was reasonable. Some choose to stay indoors and quarantined; others choose to swim and train. As the lockdowns gradually loosened up, some swimmers switched to teams that allowed for swimming and quit teams where the pool times were more restrictive. Coaches and pools that allowed for more swimming were able to attract swimmers. Coaches and pools that are more restrictive are losing swimmers. Swimmers – both club, collegiate, masters and fitness, are just doing was they think is best for themselves.

It would have been very impressive if coaches and local teams would have come together and shared pool time. Sure, all teams have to look after their own swimmers first, but in the spirit of coming together as a community collectively managing these unprecedented tough times, we would have hoped that competitive teams could have shared information, resources and pool times on a more equitable basis.

The bonds between teams and schools and organizations would have surely improved over the short- and long-term. Instead, some teams were fortunate and continued to train while others still remain in locked down situations.

“From what I can see, read and learn, I cannot imagine anything more safe or healthful in this COVID-19 lockdown than being outdoors under intense UV light in a chlorinated environment,” commented Steven Munatones. “Nothing. Swimmers and water polo players do not sweat on each other, cough on each other, or bleed on one another. Their heads and body and limbs are largely in the water, being bathed in what is essentially bleach water. I would think the risk of shopping in the supermarket or going to the pharmacy – or filling up a tank of gas or even waiting in a doctor’s office in an air conditioned building – presents an element of risk greater than swimming in an outdoor chlorinated pool. It makes no sense to me and I would love to see a research project or an epidemiologist explain to me the risk factors of swimming in a pool – even with 1, 2, 3 or 4 people per lane.

I see all kinds of inconsistent, illogical swimming pool rules in California. Some pools allow 4 or more swimmers per lane; others only allow 1 person per lane; masters swimmers can swim, but teenagers on high school teams cannot. Some pools limit training time to 1 hour, some to 90 minutes, and others have no limits. People can eat in restaurants, shop in supermarkets, touch gas pumps, and gather in massive protests, but chlorinated outdoor pools are considered to be potential cesspools of COVID. It makes no logical sense to me.”

If anyone knows of specific coaches and teams that came together as a local community, and shared facilities or resources or information, please share those stories with us via Those teams, coaches and organizations should be commended and emulated for their sense of community and generosity.

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Steven Munatones