How the Pandemic Has Changed Lap Swimming and Lifeguarding

KROC Comp Pool pandemic

How the Pandemic Has Changed Lap Swimming and Lifeguarding

Swimming is a sport or activity that is done within a close proximity of other people. Prior to the pandemic people did not have to worry about catching a serious virus, but now they do. Gyms and other recreational facilities have created new rules and protocols to allow people swim, but also keep patrons safe from COVID-19.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no evidence or reports that there is transmission of the virus in water. Regardless of evidence or not, safety measures have been put in place. If you go to a local gym and swim laps, there has most likely been a change in how you are able to go and swim. It used to be just walking in and jumping in a lane by yourself or with another person. Now gyms have limited capacities and might require a reservation in order to get into the pool. In addition to reservations, rules like wearing your mask at all times, except when swimming, have been added.

Currently, I am a lifeguard at my university’s Campus Recreation Center and since we opened in August, there have been many changes to our everyday function at the pool. Rather than coming in unannounced, a reservation is needed at least six hours prior to your desired time to swim. Each reservation is only for 45 minutes, which starts at the top of the hour. For example, if a patron signed up to swim at 2:00, then they only have until 2:45 to swim as much as they can. Once the 45 minutes are up, the last 15 minutes are closed to the public as the lifeguards wipe down the facility, using clorox wipes to disinfect the frequently touched places like the railings and doors.

Once at the pool, every patron is required to check in at our checker table right at the entrance. After checking in, the patron is allowed to walk over to their lane and begin swimming. In addition, one new rule is there is only one person allowed per lane for social distancing. Another major difference with the pool now is that every lane is staggered. So, depending on your lane number, you either enter the water closest to the entrance or farthest from it. While it may be annoying to walk around the entire pool just to get to your lane, we aren’t doing it to torture you. It’s due to social distancing, so when you stop and take a break for a breather or water, you are not going to be right next to someone without your mask.

Besides the major differences to the pool, some minor ones are that there is no equipment allowed – such as kickboards, buoys, flotation belts and water aerobic dumbbells. Usually, we would have two carts, one each at the north and south end of the pool, so people could equipment for their workout if they needed it. Some patrons viewed the decision as an inconvenience, but if we put equipment out for patrons to use, then we would have to deal with spraying them down with a cleaner every hour. This approach would take away from our time to disinfect and clean to get ready for the next reservation.

Regardless of where you go and swim, whether it be on a college campus or at a local gym, it’s important to follow the rules. It might be annoying wearing a mask right after you’ve gotten out of the pool or not being able to swim with a friend. However, these rules were put in place to let people swim while still adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

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