To mitigate risks, the Philippine Swimming Institute recommends constant monitoring of the chlorine level and water chemistry to at least five times a day. Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash
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As swimming pools reopen—here’s what you need to know to stay safe

Observe social distancing, avoid sharing, food, drinks and towel, and—as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention feel they need to note—don’t wear your face mask in the water. BY RHIA GRANA
ANCX | Jun 11 2020

It’s a relief to finally be allowed to cool down and enjoy the pool amid this lockdown and scorching heat. The Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has recently issued Resolution No. 43 allowing outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise—swimming included—provided that the minimum health standards (e.g. wearing of masks, maintenance of social distancing protocols, and no sharing of equipment, where applicable) are observed. There are still travel restrictions in areas where GCQ is implemented, so we’ll have to drop our out-of-town plans for now. 

The Philippine Swimming Institute (PSI), the official governing body of aquatic sports in the Philippines, released reminders on the resumption of training under the COVID-19 community quarantine. Since there is still no vaccine for the virus, the group urged club owners to comply with the minimum public health standards at all times for the duration of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) as prescribed by the IATF-EID and the Department of Health (DOH). The group noted that “should any of the clubs decide to resume operations and conduct trainings once again, please be reminded that you do so at your own risk.”


Guidance to pool owners

Below are some safety guidelines set by the PSI that can be applied even in village pools and public aquatic venues: 

1. Increase water sanitation level through constant monitoring of the chlorine level and water chemistry to at least five times a day. 

2. Increase frequency of cleaning and disinfection of common areas (ingress and egress points, bleachers, etc.), pool deck, windows, surface areas (benches, door handles, railings, etc). 

3. Maximize ventilation on indoor, non air-conditioned facilities. Open all electric fans and air passages (windows, doors, etc).

4. Prohibit the use of low ventilated spaces and rooms that prevent social distancing, such as small dryland rooms, locker rooms and shower rooms. 

5. There should be at least 10 minutes transition period between sessions to observe social distancing.

6. Create visible markers on the floor to indicate appropriate spacing on the pool deck, bleachers, etc. 

7. Check swimmer’s temperature before getting in to the pool area. Temperature of 37.6 degree Celsius and above should not be allowed to enter the facility. 

8. Enforce the implementations of the safety guidelines and hygiene rules of the facility at all times. 

Social distancing must always be observed in the swimming venue. Photo by Ibrahim Mohamedon Unsplash

Advice to swimmers

To protect against infections, swimmers are advised to practice the following: 

While preparing to swim

1. Wear face mask before entering the pool and right after swimming. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is not advisable to wear face coverings in the water. Cloth face coverings can be difficult to breathe through when they’re wet.)

2. Wash hands with a disinfectant soap and water (for 20 seconds or longer) or use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, before going to the pool. Always have masks, alcohol, hand sanitizers, and other available protective gears available with you. 

3. Use the designated space to leave belongings: towel, face mask, sandals, etc. 

4. Do not share equipment. 

5. Bring a full water bottle to avoid touching a tap or water fountain handle. 

6. If you need to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or upper sleeve/arm area. 

7. Arrive as close as possible to when activity begins. 

8. Avoid touching gates, fences, benches, etc. if you can. 

9. Do not go to the swimming venue if you, or a member of your household, is not feeling well. 

When swimming:

1. Follow directions for spacing and stay at least six feet apart from others. 

2. Do not make physical contact with others, such as shaking hands or giving a high five. 

3. Avoid touching your face. 

4. Avoid sharing food, drinks, or towels. 

5. Maintain appropriate social distancing from other swimmers when taking a break. 

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Shower and change clothes at home, instead of at the swimming venue, advises PSI. 
Photo from Freepik

After swimming:

1. Leave the facility as soon as reasonably possible. 

2. Wash your hands thoroughly or use a hand sanitizer after leaving the pool. 

3. Do not use the locker room or changing area. 

4. Shower at home, wear your suit to and from the venue. 

5. No extra-curricular or social activity should take place. 

6. No congregation after swimming.