The Recommended Guidelines by USA Swimming for Safe Practices

Swimming workout
Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

USA Swimming Guidelines

With more and more states allowing access to pools, it is worth repeating the USA Swimming guidelines that were sent out to ensure swimmers practice in a safe environment.

USA Swimming has released a set of guidelines for re-opening facilities and planning for the next steps as swimmers and teams begin to ease back into the water on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidelines stress that everything must comply with local, state and federal public health guidelines, but outlines several things to think about when re-opening facilities.

Check out the full guidelines here.

The first recommendation is each club designating a COVID-10 liaison who will be responsible for staying up to date on the community and state recommendations and any changes.

Building considerations need to be planned for as far as what parts of the facility are safe to use and in what ways.

As far as athlete participation is concerned, USA Swimming coaches should be in communication with everyone about their health each day and know what staff plan will help control the flow of athletes in specific spaces.

“A coach or staff member should ask athletes, as they come to practice, if they feel ill in any way, specifically listing certain symptoms, and send home those athletes reporting feeling ill or experiencing symptoms,” the guidelines state.

Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, or other symptoms identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It is recommended that athletes change clothes and shower at home.

“Make it clear that there is no penalty for missing practice and that if an athlete, or any member of their family does not feel well, they should stay home,” the guidelines read.

Social distancing should be practiced in all areas and the USA Swimming guidelines indicate how many swimmers can achieve this in different lanes with several visual aids. The visual aids are shown below for situations with different numbers of lanes and different numbers of swimmers.

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Practice Setup




  1. Katie Kuhl

    Maryanne Barkley… an interesting way to do it, but yay! we are getting closer to being able to swim again ??

  2. Sarah Kirchman Evans

    A step closer to getting bank into the water???? Phyllis D’Angelo Dissek

    • avatar
      Bill Draves

      Guaranteed, if this is the new format, no team will be able to afford pool time, ever, unless it’s free.

      • avatar


  3. Leslie Medley

    Angie Mac Beth Menasion Jessica Kornblum Moore

    • Leslie Medley I’m glad they are working through some options. Our pool is so small, I suspect we’ll have to do a significantly reduced schedule too.

    • Beth Menasion

      Jessica Kornblum Moore it’s so hard to envision how this will work!

  4. Kerri Sullivan

    Joe Leirey. Can u tell we are eager to get back

    • Shelby Bayne

      Denise Limi I’ve been sending Jason so much info! It’s just ultimately going to be up to the diocese. But if we could present a plan that may help them feel more confident

  5. Daniel Smith

    Briana Batesole, Joy Jones-Presley

    • Chuck Elrick

      Richa IJntema Cuevas we’re making plans

  6. Serge Score

    Do newer pools use a chlorine system. Thought that went out in the 1990s

    • avatar
      Anne Miglin

      Slightly elitist????

    • Heather Rasmussen

      Jennifer Greer Bennett our problem is our facilities may not open because they are controlled by other entities.

  7. Jan Daly

    I don’t know how the UK clubs will be able to do or even afford this. Many pool owners have increased lane/pool hire, which is crippling clubs.

    Many uk clubs will really struggle to pay as the revenue from a reduced swimming numbers.

    Plus I don’t know when/how or if swimming competitions will or if they can be run with social distancing. This is a key part of gaining revenue for many uk clubs.

  8. Angie Mac

    Hmmmm…. asymptomatic spread accounts for the high level of contagion. By the time someone feels sick it’s too late. I don’t know about this. We might wait and see for this first round. No need to be the guinea pigs on this experiment!

  9. avatar

    Even before covid-19, kids are coughing and continually sick due to pool air quality. If that is not addressed, I don’t think this is going to work.

    • avatar

      I completely agree. And for the asymptotic how is the enclosed air circulation and ventilation system going to prevent others from contracting it?

  10. Brent Fletcher

    Keeping the kids spaced in the lanes is going to be interesting.

    • Sabrina Lumm Grader

      Brent Fletcher when you have a group of 32 kids- another group of 30 and there are normally- 6 or more kids per lane-

      If they want to go back to swimming – practices literally are gonna have to start in the mornings and run all day to be able to space them out- to accommodate some swim clubs and groups- or divide groups am omg practices etc-

      Need to figure something out- my girl needs back in the pool

    • Ja Bounce

      Dry Land circuit training (1/3), Pool training (1/3) Dryland cardio (1/3).

    • Brent Fletcher

      Sabrina Lumm Grader I agree. It’s going to be a strain on everyone but mostly the coaches. These mega teams out there potentially will not get as much water time unless they have the staff to spread it out all day.

  11. avatar
    Mike R

    The graphs, as well as the guidelines that are linked from this page, are highly ambiguous. What do the red and black colors represent? It does not take much thinking to come up with many ways in which the social-distancing may be broken because of bottle necks where kids will be close to one another, for instance where the cones don’t separate them by enough space, or where two swimmers are merely separated by a lane line (e.g., 18 swimmer graph opposite directions). One should keep in mind that the most powerful spread happens by aerosol (tiny droplets in breath), according to what we have been told so far.

  12. avatar

    I appreciate USA Swimming’s effort to help swim clubs re-open safely, but some of their recommendations could be considered unrealistic- teams with many swimmers who need to share their facility with other programs can’t meet all these guidelines. However, I am glad USA Swimming are putting these out as recommendations to help guide clubs, not rules that must be followed.

  13. Diana Terry Bolding

    Guidelines?? This is out of control- just open and let kids swim.

    • Usua Libano

      Diana Terry Bolding IMO this out of control is called having a realistic responsible adaptive response.

  14. Beth Esposito Bodine

    Training can be accommodated, but how will there be meets? How will clerk of course run? How will spectators sit? IF there are practices, I doubt there will be meets.

    • avatar

      Agree. How can you have a meet keeping 6’ apart? No one is answering that question.

  15. Leslie Cichocki

    USA Swimming now let the swimmers go back in the water. Please spread the the guidelines you gave to Mission Viejo to all other clubs.

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      No way.Far too many asymptomatic people.Many c!ubs draw people from many areas,some are hot spots

    • Doug Schack

      Maureen Fluehr Carll so if there is a large number of asymptotic people…..wouldn’t that define this virus as far less dangerous than originally thought?

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      How so?Ramps up the numbers by far because you have a false security that because they are not outwardly appearing ill,then there’s no issue The guidelines do nothing to protect.All of the symptoms they describe can easily be caused by illness much more benign than COVID.Where’s the rush to return to the water,even China has pulled back on their workouts at least according to them saying they see a second round

    • Doug Schack

      Maureen Fluehr Carll smaller numerator, larger denominator, so the math works out. Not as dangerous as it was first hysterically sold to us by media and politicians.

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      Lol,yep those 15 cases Trump mentioned disappeared quickly,right?

    • Doug Schack

      Maureen Fluehr Carll I’m not denying that there’s a disease out there killing people. There usually is. It’s just that we don’t know anything about this virus, and apparently it can infect many who don’t even know they are infected, it can infect some with moderate symptoms, and it can kill a few. The d suggest you stay away from all media. They just want to sell you fear and hysteria and ensure you come back for more.

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      I’m not fearful,just not in a rush.I have enough level headed healthcare workers in my family to know that I don’t need a media outlet to know what is out there.We really don’t know how this virus performs but we do know that there are viral and bacterial illness that happen in water that’s containment by viruses and bacteria even in chlorinated water.,If wait and see and I’ll wait for a consensus from medical people before putting myself in a spot I regretted later.For now,let’s follow what’s asked of us.Chomping at the bit probably drags this out even onger

  16. Diana Terry Bolding

    Open USA swimming- enough of social distancing guidelines crap – people are so afraid to be sued etc. it’s the fear factor.

    • Tim Ritchie

      Diana Terry Bolding Are you a working aquatics specialist?

    • Nancy Harms

      Tim Ritchie Tim, I think your question is a good one. Not sure all swim teams have the whole aquatics picture in mind. It definitely should be aquatics professionals (not professional coaches) advising in these decisions. The pool is more than a swim lane. Gosh it can be frustrating.

    • Jen Thompson

      Diana Terry Bolding what is your educational background? I am very much in favor for my kid to get back in ASAP when it’s deemed safe, she is literally in the middle of recruiting for the class of 21. But I have seen this shit up close and if you think you have it figured out, then please enlighten us…

    • Tim Ritchie

      Diana Terry Bolding At least now I know how to filter your decision making???

  17. Maria Kennedy

    Louise Starmer Susan Duggan Brid Cantwell

  18. Dick Beaver

    Stop following the politician control freaks.
    Get our swimmers back in the water.

  19. Liz Baum

    I’m so lucky that San Diego is letting us swim in the ocean now!

  20. Flynn Burroughs

    I have reviewed the new USA Swimming COVID related guidelines. Here are my questions, comments and concerns:

    Based on what specific data were these guidelines created? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Does it matter? It is after all being suggested that coaches make rather radical changes to how they and the sport itself operate.

    Assuming that it is the reported severity of COVID, in particularly the Mortality Rate, that has led to the development of these guidelines, has anyone questioned or challenged the true validity of that risk?

    Let’s look at mortality rate since it’s that which is being used to create the fear (and hide the facts) that is forcing these changes.

    As of 5/2/2020, the COVID mortality rate in the US is reported as 6%. Mortality rate = number of COVID deaths / number of COVID cases X 100. So ~ 66,000 deaths / 1.1 million confirmed cases X 100 = 6%.

    Here’s the problem with the math…

    The denominator (number of cases) is only based on the number of “confirmed cases”. It fails to account for those who test positive for COVID antibodies or reasonable extrapolated data that can be drawn from those positive antibody tests.

    Those who test positive for having COVID antibodies may have been asymptomatic or had mild (or even more severe) symptoms that they didn’t seek treatment for or failed to receive a confirmed COVID diagnosis for. So although they were clearly infected, they are not included as “confirmed cases” within the denominator of the mortality rate equation.

    None the less, the prevalence of positive antibody tests indicate that both hospitalization & mortality rates are SIGNIFICANTLY inflated. Inflated to the extent that an accurate calculation would result in moving the decimal left and showing a true mortality rate of well under 1%.

    That’s true even if only 1% of those tested for COVID antibodies test positive for them. As of May 1, NY has tested over 15,000 people for COVID antibodies. The preliminary results show 14.9 percent of the population have COVID-19 antibodies with some areas of the state testing as high as 27% positive. Other tests conducted at both Stanford & USC, as well as others places, have also shown a much greater prevalence than what is being reported and utilized to calculate the COVID mortality rate.

    I won’t even bother getting into all the issues with the numerator (number of COVID deaths) aspect of the mortality rate equation. However here is what the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, had to say on the topic:

    “If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means technically even if you died of a clear alternate cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who’s listed as a COVID death doesn’t mean that that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of the death.” Dr. Ezike outlined.


    Yet it is these invalid mortality rates that have terrified our society, shutdown our economy, modified our behavior, trampled our liberties, and is now leading to the creation of baseless & ridiculous “guidelines” for every industry + activity under the sun…including USA Swimming!

    If it’s truly the math/science that is driving these decisions, then why are these critical factors being ignored?

    Then of course there’s the demographics that are being brushed aside when offering guidance. For whatever the reported mortality rates are actually worth, they do clearly indicate that it is the elderly (65+), especially those immunocompromised, who make up over 80% of the mortality figures. This of course isn’t unique to COVID. The flu & pneumonia also pose a high risk to these groups, and an even greater risk to our youth.

    Considering this, like during any flu/virus outbreak, it is those individuals who should take the greatest precaution to minimize their exposure. They are the ones who, based on all the data, are primarily at risk.

    Fear sells though, and we’re all buying it. Shoot, we’re standing in line to buy it…6 feet apart.

    It’s time to put facts before fear.

    • Maureen Fluehr Carll

      Fact of the matter is this isn’t going anywhere until we’re told it is.In the meantime,do your part to do what needs to be satisfactorily convince those who make decisions that it’s time.The fact is ,the few ruin for the many

  21. Trina Jackson Falca

    What do the swimmers do when they pass each other? I don’t get it.

  22. avatar

    Do whatever is best, and do it whenever

  23. Good luck coaches trying to corral younger swimmers and explain a set to them while they’re treading water in the middle of a lane ? But that’s why you get paid the big bucks?? Just glad to see a plan being drawn up to get everyone back in the water!

    • Tim Damico

      Elizabeth Bannon Scargill what the hell?…..

  24. Mike McCluhan

    Will a 16 year old life guard notify me when my swimmers are out of compliance?

  25. Anne-Marie Tucker

    Is swimming so important that we ignore that people are getting sick and dying?

    My family wants to get back in the water BUT my kids should know that their 1st place medal is not more important than other humans.

  26. Dick Beaver

    Hmmm. Let’s see now. Only one swimmer on the wall at a time?? Or do they wear a diving MASK. Lol.

    Ladies if you are afraid for your child, you have the FREEDOM to keep them home in isolation. You are NOT free to impose your fears on others.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      They are free to have their opinion without being told to shut up, Dick. You have a different opinion – and that’s fine – and your opinion isn’t the one that’s prevailed in nations far and wide when it comes to swimming and pools with specific reference to the close contact of people. Again, get the desire to return but to you and all others in this thread, please try to be respectful of others and the views they hold when it comes to where people feel they stand on the spectrum of ‘caution required’. The kind of caution being built into ‘return to the water’ strategies has practical, health, welfare and legal considerations in the mix. Imagine we all took your advice and got all swim programs back to standard behaviour from tomorrow… then imagine contagion taking hold in the smallest of ways; you know, a couple of dead coaches and helpers and others, perhaps the odd swimmer (and we won’t mention grandparents) and guess what the first question would be? What did the authorities, USA Swimming included, advice us? Cue legal actions galore, cue chaos and pain for months, if not years ahead. One swimmer at the wall at a time for now has reasoning behind it, including the very environment at the end of each wall. Think about what that environment looks like: it is not all about chlorinated water (bottles, equipment, asthma sprays and on and on… all of that needs taking into account). Someone in this thread mentioned Sweden and pools never being shut. That isn’t true. It is correct that elite swimmers have been training under fairly controlled conditions. Not aimed at you specifically, Dick, but I urge everyone in these threads to be more measured in their views on the measured views of others and challenging efforts to find strategies to achieve what we all want to see – a safe return to water at a time of pandemic.

  27. Kimberly Joy

    We dont need guidelines. We need to be normal. This is akin to the flu – no reason peopld cannot swim like normal. This is absurd

    • Tami Doto Coleman

      Margaret Petta I had seen this. Our issue is that we may not be able to swim till we are in the green phase and who knows when that will be. We are going into yellow phase today.

  28. Amber Reed

    Rachel Cox Joyce Monk Pretty please?!?! ??☺️

  29. Diane Looney

    Hopefully this is a good sign and more pools will begin to open.

  30. Dick Beaver

    Just get the pools open. Coaches and swimmers will handle the rest.

  31. Dina Hamsa Soltys

    Holy cow- quit talking about it and just open already!

  32. Jen Hintz

    Governor JB Pritzker restore Illinois-open the pools in phase 3 for outdoor lap swimming, team practices, exercise class and physical therapy.

  33. Scott Butler

    This is almost 20 days old. Nothing new here ..

  34. Kate Dunne

    If you are scared… Stay home! The rest of us are going back to life!

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Kate – unless you own a private pool, it simply doesn’t work like that. Freedom, like safety, and risk and weighing such things up is for all, not just for the few who feel themselves somehow ‘braver’ than the rest. Public health and safety policies, pools included, must speak to all, not just those at the low end of feeling it necessary to heed expert advice on risk.

  35. avatar
    Cody brown

    Appreciate USA Swimming trying to proffer ideas, but the recommended practice format is not at all practical or possible. It violates its own criteria of 6’ distancing right away…. with 2 kids per lane, that leaves a 2’ wide “lane” for each kid to adhere to (many teens measure 2’ wide standing like a robot). Worse, they are then about 8 inches from the kid in the lane next to them. Not to mention that getting kids to adhere to restrictions this tight is not even remotely possible. If 6’ distancing is truly necessary / desirable for health and safety, this recommendation is a bad one.

  36. Rachael Pick

    Marilyn Larned Soraghan – ??‍♀️??‍♂️??‍♀️??‍♂️

  37. Jen Hintz

    Governor JB Pritzker pools need to open for swim training. Most othe sports can practice elsewhere if the fields are not open, but swimmers need water. My daughter went from 20 hours a week of practice to 0 for since March 13. Outdoor pools should be part of phase 3.
    Restore Illinois

  38. avatar
    Kim Miltz

    Pools should be open!!!!

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Open ‘safely’ – always add what is essential to that surface screen of ‘open the pools!’ at a time when depth of thought and care are critical

  39. Rae Rae

    Governor Chris Sununu open our pools!

  40. avatar

    Stationary swimming

    • Sean Young

      Looks like the same document you sent earlier. ??