Be proactive without shutting down your swim practices. Swimming pool water is safe according to the CDC due to the chlorine treatment. Less than 2% of the reported cases of Covid19 have been with children under the age of 19. The risk for swimmers is the proximity to lane mates when they are at the walls and as they enter and move around the facility as a whole. In this package we will address an in-water practice plan that will allow teams to safely continue practicing with minimal risk of air-borne transmissions. The swim industry has been almost exclusively focused on a practice method that involves everything stopping and starting at the walls on either side of the pool. This highly increases the risk of COVID 19 virus transmission with swimmers so close to each other. This package is a rough presentation of a process designed to address this ‘wall problem’ for swim teams, but of course diligence is also needed for the swimmers while they are interacting out of the water and during dryland exercises.
In-Water Safety Plan – Overview
- Swimmers are assigned a station along the lane line so that they are each spaced 10-15 feet apart all along their lane. No one is assigned to the wall as a ‘station’ as this becomes an unfair advantage with a wall push, and is more risky as lane mates enter and exit from the wall ends of the lanes.
- Each station is to be marked with a specific color (above and below the water) that is unique to that swimmer in their lane.
- Swimmers keep their dry gear well-spaced apart from each other on the pool deck, collect their in-water gear, and go straight to their assigned station at the start of practice.
- Swimmers install their own Station Marker and attach their Gear bag to the lane line as their designated location.
- The In-water gear for each swimmer will be housed in a gear bag and hanging from the lane line so they can make equipment changes without stopping at the wall at ANY time during practice.
- Coaches will need to redo their practice sets to account for the unique start locations (i.e a 100 yard swim can still be 100 yards but it will be measured from the individual swimmer ‘station’ and back to that same station).
- Swimmers will need to adopt a new mentality of NOT stopping at the walls but going straight to their station whenever a set is completed (this may mean additional ‘easy’ swims to get to and from their station).
- This process is greatly facilitated with the use of in-water headsets to help each swimmer hear the coach at all times.
The Gear Needed:
Many of the things needed can be made from equipment around the pool deck but here are some items that are now commercially available specifically for this type of practice (from www.oneswim.com).
- Headsets by ONEFocus –
Headsets on each swimmer will allow the swimmers to hear even a whisper from their coaches, while they are swimming, or when they are at rest. This allows the group to be spread out and multiple coaches to be working in the same pool without screaming over each other (http://www.swimmersbest.com/electronics/)
- Station Markers –
These are color coded and sold in batches of 6 colors per set. They have weights on the bottom to ensure the colored foam float stands up above the water (to see on backstroke) and a matching color tether below the water.
- Gear Hammock –
Gear bags are now available that hang horizontally under the lane lines so the swimmers can access their gear changes such as snorkels, fins, paddles, etc… without going back to the wall. These hammock bags include weights inside the bags to ensure they sink below the lane lines and don’t float over into the swim lane.
- Kickboard and buoy brackets – because the kickboards and buoys will float into the lane space if placed the Gear Hammock, a new bracket is coming very soon to clip kickboards and buoys above the lane lines.
Rough Changes to Our Swimming Sets:
- Don’t get the swimmers out of the pool for discussions, set explanations, etc… This will bottleneck them at the walls and put them at risk of spreading the virus. They go to their station and only stop at their station.
- Swimmers have to be trained that ‘50 yards’ will mean that you will circle swim from your Station Marker (placed on your right side facing away from your blocks) and back to that same point for a 50 yard swim. So each time they pass their station marker on their right hand, it will be ‘50 yards’.
- Because each swimmer is at a different point from the wall, some swimmers may swim further for some types of sets.
- A full 100 IM can be swum by having the swimmers do an easy/pace freestyle to their first wall, and then a full 100 IM from that first wall, but do NOT stop when they finish the 100 IM, instead ‘touch and go’ with an easy/pace freestyle back to their station marker.
- For timed race pace sets, there are a few options:
- Swimmers start with their right hand on the lane line and laying flat beside the lane line (not pushing off the floor as this will benefit those in shallow stations compared to deeper sections). They do a single pull on the lane line to get started. As they are close to their station marker at the finish of the desired distance, the coach can call out the seconds and as their eyes pass their marker, they can mentally record their time. Coaches can randomly double check swimmers to keep them honest.
- A timed component can be done by starting your stop watch at the same time as their feet hit the wall and then when they finish at the desired wall. A coach can get 2 such times with 2 stop watches and times for other swimmers as that component rotates back through the set (then called out at the end of the set so the swimmers can compare times for that component).
- For Kick, Cardio, Pull and Swim sessions, the coach can make great use of their headset by changing ‘gears’ on their command. For instance swimmers can start off in ‘pace/easy/2nd gear’ and swim/kick/pull for X time until the coach calls for ‘all out’. This allows for interval training without any concern for distance related to the walls. This type of method can be used for X minutes and then tell them to continue at ‘pace’ until they get to their station to stop and rest.
- Side-by-side races can be done by having swimmers line up beside each other (separated by the width of their lane). But ideally their individual station markers would be staggered between neighboring lanes for maximum separation.
- Maintain 6+ feet between people at all times
- Be aware of surfaces. Plastics and stainless steel can retain viable coronavirus for 2-3 days.
- Do as much dryland outside as possible for added space
- Be careful with circuit training unless you are preparing to clean mats, kettle bells, bars, etc… between each user.
This document will be regularly updated with more in-water ideas, regular videos, dryland ideas, etc… to avoid the spread of COVID-19 (so check back regularly). We welcome comments and will try to incorporate ideas as best and as fast as we can.
Email Bethany for more information and pricing: email@example.com