The Worries and Concerns of Lap Swimming As Pools Open

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Lap swimming may not be deemed a safe activity if people are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

As we get deeper into the month of May and online schooling comes to a close, many people will be hoping to spend their summer days by the pool. According to the CDC, “there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”

So as the virus starts to (hopefully) slow down, a return to the pool  will happen for some longing to dive in and be immersed in that environment on a hot summer’s day. But according to a recent report from The Mercury News in San Jose, California, it might be harder than originally thought to social distance in a public pool.

“There’s more and more research showing that coronavirus can be spread even more than six feet when people are vigorously exercising like running or swimming,” Contra Costa County’s Health Officer Christopher Farnitano said in a video interview posted by the county. “There’s a concern that even if someone is swimming in their own lane, when the person is right next to them is breathing heavily, they could be exposed. It’s hard to maintain that kind of social distancing in a public pool.”

Lap swimmers also would have trouble maintaining an appropriate physical distance if more than one stops at the end of a lane to rest or to wait for another swimmer to finish, Lavin acknowledged.

USA Swimming has published guidelines to teams regarding strict social distancing guidelines if they are to hold organized practice. Swimmers will be permitted to stay within six feet of each other in the pool with a limited number of swimmers in each lane. USA Swimming provided the following visual aids to illustrate what would be appropriate. If public pools are to open for lap swimming, then they may have to follow USA Swimming’s lead with mandating social distancing, but that may become difficult for the pools to police.

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  1. Maranda Bell

    Stop with the negativity. Come on swimming world without swimmers you have no company. Come up with solutions not doom and gloom!!

    • Buster Smith

      Maranda Bell if they didn’t tell you. You’d be wondering why without any information. Information isn’t doom and gloom just because you don’t like it.

    • Maranda Bell

      Buster Smith you obviously haven’t been following their page the last at least 4 post have been about swimmers not returning to the pool. Plus in what world do club swimmers not know they aren’t back in the water…smh

    • Kacey Greg Ramos

      Maranda Bell seriously!!! They need to be leaders and not followers

    • Sean Judge

      You can’t will this virus away with positivity. The number one consideration must be the safety of the athletes. If there’s any chance of them being unsafe, a few more weeks or months away from the pool is worth it.

      • avatar

        Exactly! Especially lungs are very important to the swimmers!

    • Maranda Bell

      Sean Judge viruses have to run there course we can’t live in fear forever. We don’t hide from any other virus and if they don’t gather in groups and get directly in the pool they should be fine. Article even says there is no evidence that the virus can live in chlorine. If you don’t want to return to the pool don’t but for those that do want to train let them

    • Tanya McDowell Thome

      Maranda Bell when did an article containing information regarding safety become negativity? You consider it negative because it doesn’t support your desire to get your child back in the water. I’d rather have all the information and make a decision than god my head in the sand and assume all is good.

    • Sean Judge

      I appreciate the purely choice based point of view. The problem is that many age groupers and other children can be unwitting, asymptomatic carriers to family members. This phenomenon of course isn’t limited to children. We simply must figure this out for the health and safety of all. We aren’t there yet.

    • Maranda Bell

      Tanya McDowell Thome they are putting out same info over and over with different headlines and it is not new information. Plus we know our kids aren’t in pool…smh

    • Maranda Bell

      Sean Judge really guess walmart and all other stores are immune just pools with chlorine aren’t smh

    • Tanya McDowell Thome

      Maranda Bell then I’d suggest not reading them. There is no swimming going on so they really have nothing else to report on.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Maranda Bell Would lap swimming be limited to every third lane to maintain social distancing ?

    • Maranda Bell

      Rob Hauptschein no most lanes are 8 feet wide you could put a kid in a lane

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Maranda Bell so every other lane by your measures?

    • Maranda Bell

      Some teams that have gone back are putting a kid in every lane and telling them to swim down black line to make distance requirements.

    • Terri Hixenbaugh

      Sean Judge seems we are worried so much more about this than the regular flu because we’ve been sold the story through mainstream media . Sad that we bought it hook line and sinker…only time will tell and we will never know the entire truth.

    • Sean Judge

      Still guessing. But best of luck to those who choose for their children to get back in the pool. It’s ridiculously frustrating to sit on the sidelines- I get it. I just have a different point of view.

    • Maranda Bell

      Sean Judge you can have a different point of view. I don’t see how you think grocery stores are safe and a pool with chlorine isn’t?

    • Steven Rose

      Maranda Bell “stop reporting scientifically supported facts about the reality of the situation!”

    • Sean Judge

      I didn’t say I thought stores were safe. I don’t believe they are either and we have to evaluate risks accordingly. All I said is that it’s my opinion that we need more information. I respect yours – I just have a different one.

    • Jason Barnard

      Rob Hauptschein Did you read the article?

    • Buster Smith

      Terri Hixenbaugh People are worried because this is worse than the regular flu and we currently have already have medicines and therapies available to combat the old flu. So the new flu, had already killed nearly a years worth of people that the old flu would have killed in 4 months. Again it is not the same. That isn’t fear, that’s just the stats. That’s why people “bought it hook line and sinker”.

    • Dale Alton

      Terri Hixenbaugh it is many times worse than other flues. More than 70,000 deaths in a couple of months.

    • Dale Alton

      Maranda Bell it is simple – it is essential to get food and even thought swimming is really important to us – it is not essential.

    • Maranda Bell

      Dale Alton well I live in Fl and some things are opening and if a store can be open a pool can be too a virus doesn’t the difference and a pool is safer

    • Joe Milinovich

      Maranda Bell swimming and Walmart are not equal. Just my thought.

      Have you kid run to stay in shape for awhile. I am not sure how old your son or daughter is but swimming isn’t everything. Sooner or later they will be a swammer

  2. Spencer Pinter

    The obsession over this is making my head spin. Next, they will be suggesting that people wear masks while swimming. An entire new industry will be created for the manufacturing of masks that can be worn while swimming, surfing, diving, etc… ???

    • Fred Rodkey

      Spencer Pinter , snorkels with filters, the solution is right before our eyes

  3. Amy Beery

    They are literally swimming in disinfectant…

  4. Jodi Robins

    This is stupid. They’re swimming in chlorine.

    • avatar

      ‘Swimming in chlorine’, Not circulating chlorine through their lungs. the chlorine in the pool will not have any effect on the shedding virus in their lungs, if they happen to be asymptomatic. As the article said, athletes blow the virus much farther than six feet. The exhalation tends to get aerosolized and spreads much farther. As they pass each other, even if lanes apart, they could be swimming through plumes of the other swimmers possibly infected breath.

  5. Jennifer Brurok

    So how about we just call it now. No more swimming ever again. Screw the sport. Sorry all you kids who have busted your asses for years… find something new to do now. I’m sorry- but we don’t honestly know crap about this and a lot can change quickly. Can we at least give our kids some hope that we will be able to return to normal; or won’t we be able to do that til after an election? Politicians are ALL ruining our emotional and physical selves much more than COVID ever will.

    • Andrea McHugh

      Stacy Lawton Laferriere and weeks ago!!!

    • Keith Havens

      Robert Fisher, obviously because you never breathe hard in a moist environment when you are swimming surrounded by other hard-breathing swimmers touching your toes trying to pass you, and… oh, never mind.

    • Robert Fisher

      Keith Havens Come on coach how would you know. You only swam at William & Mary and coached at Albion College for several decades…. ha!

    • Keith Havens

      Robert Fisher, yeah, but like you, I was a sprinter, and never breathed hard!

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Would lap swimming be limited to every third lane to maintain social distancing ?

    • Robert Fisher

      Keith Havens Technically we didn’t breathe hard because we held our breath for so long. Maybe that’s the solution…. no breathing.

  6. Kate Dunne

    Who cares. Move on! Life is full of risks! Lets Go

    • Spencer Pinter

      Simple and well said. From the day we are born, we have exactly a 0% chance of making out of here alive!! Chill out and live life to its fullest, while you are able. ???

  7. Daniel Moe

    Open water swimming and competition would be fine

    • Val Acosta Mehta

      Daniel Moe stands can be a bit tight. Just sayin’.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Daniel Moe Would lap swimming be limited to every third lane to maintain social distancing ?

    • Daniel Moe

      im saying open water swimming like in the ocean.

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Alice Tiuseco Pergolini USA Swimming its time to get back in the water. Let the families make their own decision.

    • Steven Rose

      Leslie Cichocki your decision to head out doesn’t stick with you. You risk every single person around you and then some.

    • Leslie Cichocki

      Alice Tiuseco Pergolini this doesn’t seem like the USA at all. Someone else ?has tell us what to do. USA is about freedom.

    • Jason Barnard

      Steven Rose Yes. Stop living in fear. WalMart and Costco are doing just fine (in fact, I don’t there’s been a single Costco employee infected!). Lowe’s and Home Depot are doing fine. Apply social distancing and let people swim. Those, like you, who seem to be too scared to leave your house, can simply stay home until you deem it safe for you and yours. What you don’t seem to understand is that we can’t leave the entire country locked down until everyone feels safe. That’s not how life works. you’re going to eventually have to venture out of your bubble. You act like you’ve never been sick in your entire life.

  8. Benny B Jammin II

    If I don’t jump in the pool soon, I may just forget how to flip turn. ???

  9. Robert Hayon

    Now this is becoming ridiculous. Let’s just shut the whole world down until we maybe find a vaccine that might work. Enough with the negativity already.

    • Kristina Lyn

      Robert Hayon no coronavirus vaccine has ever been developed. Let that sink in

  10. Jeff Sutton

    Aquatic is risk management not elimination. There are always going to be ways to get sick or injured at a pool. As a community, facility all we can do is develop risk avoidance based on the current science at the time. USA Swimming in their provided return to swim guideline are just that.

    • Steven Rose

      Jeff Sutton guess we should eliminate all laws then. There’s always risk of getting killed by a drunk driver. Guess we should eliminate those restrictions. Let people decide if they can function enough to drive. I

  11. Tyler Jones

    I though I read somewhere it said that the coronavirus can’t survive or spread in water. Anybody else know if that is true or not?

  12. Sarah McNew

    Let them swim! If there are swimmers or their families who are uncomfortable, they can choose not to participate

  13. Cait Ann

    But……. chlorine kills everything??!! Skin, hair, suits, everything comes out looking worse than when it went in!!!!!

    • Jiri F. Smetana

      Cait Ann Yup…I’m a chemical engineer and chlorine ALWAYS wins.

    • Cait Ann

      Jiri F. Smetana seeing as you’re a scientist and have experience with chlorine exposures, I would assume covid-19 would come out looking mighty pitiful!!!!

    • Steven Rose

      Cait Ann it doesn’t kill the air. Nor all the surfaces shared.

  14. Paul Smith

    Contact the folks in Sweden that have kept their pools open (inside) the entire time

  15. Pamela Cooper Shepard

    Stop posting this! Florida just opened their pools. There are signs out that say swim at your own risk! Pools and gyms with pools need to open!

  16. Dana Schlitter

    Oh for God’s sake. Open the pools and let US decide if it’s a risk we want to take! The pool operators are scared of lawsuits. I need to get back into Masters Swimming!

    • Steven Rose

      Dana Schlitter it’s not your risk to take. It’s the risk you bring to everyone around you.

    • Jason Barnard

      Steven Rose You and/or your swimmer should stay home then. You see how that works? You get your ‘safety’ and Dana Schlitter, and the rest of us that want to, get to swim/train. That’s how it’s supposed to work in America.

    • Steven Rose

      Jason Barnard No. That is NOT “how it’s suppose to work in America”. America is SUPPOSE to work together for the good of the whole. You want to infect and kill thousands if not millions of people because you think your swimming is more important than people’s lives. You are selfish and pro-plague. You have a right to be a fucking imbecile; But you do not have a right to swim and not care about others’ lives.

    • Dana Schlitter

      Jason Barnard Thanks Jason. We can’t argue with people like Steven who would rather take our rights away and make snide remarks about Texas. Well, I’m in Arizona so, guess we’re just like Texas and I’m proud of that!

    • Jason Barnard

      Steven Rose do tell – which state gets to claim your Chicken Little lifestyle?

  17. Rick Parker

    Of all people likely to get sick from this virus, lap swimmers have to be at the very bottom of the list. ?

    • Brittany Rose Florio

      SupremlyPetty Logan I would demand they have the kids in their own lanes for a LONG time.

  18. avatar
    Joel Gitlin

    Correct me if I’m wrong , but don’t swimmers
    breathe into the water where the chlorine is
    and not exhale into the air to the swimmer next
    to them?

  19. Lori Carena

    This is not feasible in nyc. There are too many people using pool at all times.

  20. Mike Mcgowan

    People a lot of these pools are run by county’s or city’s not swimming world. It’s up to them. If I’m not mistaken MISSION VIEJO is a club pool. Up to the owner.

  21. Rob Hauptschein

    Would lap swimming be limited to every third lane to maintain social distancing ?

    • Jason Barnard

      Rob Hauptschein did you even read the article? There’s even pictures if you didn’t want to read!

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Jason Barnard skimmed. If two swimmers in the same lane or even adjacent lanes pass each other, is that is too close?

    • Jason Barnard

      Rob Hauptschein Read the article and take a look at the diagrams. I bet you can answer your own questions.

    • Rob Hauptschein

      Jason Barnard I dont think any of those configurations if I’m looking correctly maintain distancing? Seems every other lane at least should be empty

    • Jason Barnard

      Rob Hauptschein distancing is based upon 6′ air born transmission. they are limiting the downtime between sets when swimmers would normally be standing/talking shoulder to shoulder at one end of the pool. Otherwise, they are swimming in disinfectant.

  22. Amanda Schwabauer

    Competitive swimmers and Swim teams need to practice in the water and it’s chlorinated…. please let them swim❤️

  23. Amanda Law

    The water isn’t the issue, it’s the air above and around the swimmers that’s the problem.

    • Maranda Bell

      Amanda Law what about outdoor pools you come in already in your suit go straight to your lane and get in?

  24. Steven Rose

    I always thought the swimming world was intelligent until I started reading the comments.

    Everybody seems to be severely selfish and willfully ignorant.

  25. Jennifer Heron

    Complete crap. Let the people swim!!!!! But they can play tennis and golf!?

  26. Anne-Marie Tucker

    I can’t help but think that there is some serious self centeredness at work here. Why are we trying to get swimming up and running? Is it for folk’s job security? Or are we just incredibly uncomfortable without our swimming habits? I want to swim as well, but people are still dying!

  27. Norman Wright

    This is not the message swimming community needs. We should follow safety guidelines to the letter and the CDC says swimming is safe.

  28. Chris Como

    Wow I am dying to watch my College daughter swim again. Crazy Swim Dad here. But although I do see other news more positive elsewhere. I appreciate this group putting out factual information. Bad news is unpleasant but important. Suck it up. You’re swimmers not football players

  29. Lori Carena

    The issue is locker rooms, bathrooms. Chlorine killsx covid, correct?

  30. Jason Barnard

    So you scrapped all the other comments and re-posted?! Nice! How very open-minded of you guys!

    • Jason Barnard

      It’s all about the clicks and views!

    • Kacey Greg Ramos

      Jason Barnard right! That’s what I was thinking. I’m wondering if they are actually supporting the sport anymore or a hidden agenda.

    • Linda Vetter Forman

      The original post is still on the page with all the comments, why did they repost this?

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

        Linda, if you’re looking through Facebook, the ‘post’ is the real article on the website which is posted just the once. Facebook is a way of alerting readers to posts on the website and our readership is 24 hours around the world. When an Australian wakes up, for example, he/she may check latest social media pushes. Hence the reposts that advertise posts on the website.

    • Jason Barnard

      Linda Vetter Forman It’s all about the clicks and views. They re-post and maybe the comments take a different tone and they get more people involved in their thread. Not much going on to report on due to COVID so they’re recycling content.

    • Scott Noack

      Kathryn Meinhardt you go girl. I don’t know why we are not enjoying some local reservoir swimming right now. Totally safe.

  31. Maranda Bell

    Wow…smh…I am done with this page

    • Amanda Law

      Maranda Bell same. They post one article, then a conflicting one right after. They keep posting the same stuff since they don’t have anything else to talk about. I’m snoozing this account for the next 30’days.

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

        Amanda and Maranda: there are many views and strategies being worked out, all of them geared to finding a safe return to the water. There is no ‘eureka! we found the solution’ to this, every pool, type of pool and facility, size of program – around the world (we have a world audience) – bringing its own challenges. That different views are reflected in our coverage is a strength. That you don’t like to read one view or another is a matter for you, not a reflection of whether our coverage is reasonable and balanced, which it is.

    • Kimberly Joy

      Maranda Bell yep…about to dump them too. This is a flu, nothing more. Most who get it dont even know they are sick from it. Its ridiculous

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

        Kim, you keep repeating that untruth. As penned in other comment, it is not “a flu” in the clinical and standard interpretations of that … there is no vaccine nor remedy nor alleviating medication for COVID-19. In the period 2017 to 2019, according to CDC figures, vaccination against ‘flu strains have resulted in 10.6m averted infections, 5.5m averted visits to doctor, around 150,000 averted hospitalisations and 9,200 deaths, in the U.S. alone. COVID-19 is estimated to be 3-4 times more virulent (some estimates go much higher) and is a virus that is not yet fully understood.

        On that basis, caveat emptor on any calls for pool returns without the back-up of safe strategies backed by science and expert knowledge and opinion.

        If we’re to get swimming back to where it would love to be, with the smallest risk of reversal, the fastest route is to tell it like it is, including noting the fundamental differences that scientists are still working out between flu and covid-19 (unlike ‘flu, “COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near” … and that is among key things, along with the risks in pools of aerosolised water and trace elements of faeces in pool environments, that MUST be considered in the process of opening up pools and programs). When we acknowledge and pay attention to such things, safe strategies will be much easier to work out and implement … It is not ‘a ‘flu’ … :

  32. Kathryn Newberry

    Realistically I don’t think I am going to be in the water until September at the earliest.

  33. Celeste Lind

    “according to a recent report from The Mercury News in San Jose, California” – that explains it.

  34. Holden Bank

    Curious as to how many of the folks who think this is BS have actually had the virus.

    • Bob McAdams

      That’s an interesting question! Does anyone here know any competitive swimmers who have been diagnosed with the virus?

  35. Kimberly Joy

    Oh give me a break. This virus is overhyped beyond belief. Its a flu. Thats it. Most who get it dont even get sick from it. Stop with the fear mongering

    • Jean King

      Kimberly Joy have a look at the death tolls in Europe the USA is constantly rising I know many people who have had it and it’s not the flu it’s much worse and it’s not just the old who get it badly

  36. Ja Bounce

    Plan for Swimming… What about Water Polo?!?

    • Doug Schack

      John Martin with horsexhit on top as a garnish.