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Triathlon swim training in the pool returns: CDC COVID19 guidelines for reopening pools

This week, the Center for Disease Control released its COVID19 guidelines for reopening pools and other recreational facilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’m sure most triathletes and masters swimmers have been waiting for this announcement with the same anticipation that a child has on Christmas Eve hoping at Santa Claus will be bringing presents.

Or maybe that all-over-body tingling feeling every triathlete gets when they see that new carbon-fiber tri-bike in the local bike shop window.

The CDC guidelines are fairly straightforward has posted on their website

CDC COVID19 guidelines for reopening pools

The pool reopening guidelines include ensuring that the swimming facilities:

  • Use appropriate and approved pool chemicals to prevent viral spread
  • Regularly clean pool hand rails, slides and other pool equipment
  • Making sure that shared equipment like kickboards are disinfected between uses.

The CDC is also asking for pools to post information that outline prevention measures that swimmers can take to prevent the spread of Covid19.

CDC guidelines to swimmers to prevent COVID-19 at pools

These COVID-19 prevention measures include:

  • Staying home if you’re sick with a fever, cold or cough.
  • Using social distancing and maintaining 6 feet between individuals.
  • Covering the mouth and nose for coughing and sneezing with a tissue and then throwing away the tissue in the trash .(do people really still need to be told this?)  
  • Reminders to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.  

The CDC is recommending that the pools and recreational facilities keep the restrooms open. The guidelines state that restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected a regular basis (at least once a day) with attention to disinfecting countertops, faucets, light switches and door knobs and handles.

The new CDC guidelines for reopening pools also recommend that the pools and recreation facilities make sure that restrooms are regularly stocked with handwashing supplies such as soap and paper towels.

However, CDC is recommending that swimmers bring their own hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).  

It’s still recommended that people use in a pool recreational facilities continue to observe social distancing and wear a cloth mask while in the facility and not in the pool.

Do I need to wear a mask while swimming?

The good news is that the CDC is not recommending wearing a mask while you swim!

The CDC does note that wearing a  cloth mask can make swimming more difficult (glad they realized that..)

I expect to see a few triathletes take this CDC recommendation as a challenge, and that hypoxic pool sets while wearing a cloth mask will become the next hot triathlon workout.

I’ll be waiting to see who posts it on

Who’s got two thumbs and is glad to be back in the pool?

What’s the risk of getting COVID-19 while swimming?

There haven’t been any studies that I’ve seen yet looking at risk of contracting COVID-19 while swimming in a pool, but you can read my thoughts on the risk of getting COVID19 from a swimming pool here.

Most pools are chemically treated with chlorine and other pool chemicals, so the expectation is that COVID19 would not survive long in properly treated pool water.

However, if you have a big group of swimmers all swimming laps in lanes, what’s the risk of COVID19 in that setting?

Its still think fairly low risk since swimmers exhale underwater and inhale above water (some day I’ll tell everyone how many triathlon seasons it took me to learn this fact – note that my swimming did not improve much even after figuring out the proper way to breath while swimming).

Since COVID19 is transmitted in droplets and not airborne, the chlorine in the pool should inactive any virus.

So when will masters swim programs restart after COVID19?  

I expect that any big gatherings such as a master swim program are still going to be on hold for right now because of the difficulty maintaining social distancing in and around the pool.

The good news is at least we are at the beginning of returning back to a “normal” triathlon training season even with Ironman and other triathlons canceling or postponing most triathlons this season.

And now there’s one less excuse of ignoring your swim training…