Planning a Safe Swim Season in 2021
We’re so happy that Covid vaccinations have been rolling out, but there is still a strong likelihood that our days of social distancing and wearing masks will not quite be over by the time summer swim season begins. Even so, we’re optimistic that with proper precautions and modifications, summer swimming can still occur this year, so we’d like to help you with planning a safe swim season in 2021.
We’ve learned a lot from our leagues who held modified seasons last year, plus our involvement with year-round teams who are currently conducting practices and meets. Therefore we’re hopeful that many teams and leagues can return to summer swim season in 2021, even if it looks a bit different than usual.
Socially-distanced practices and meets can be conducted safely, but it will require some thought and planning ahead of time. Fortunately, we have a lot more time this year than last year for that kind of planning, and we’re here to help.
As you’re making plans for a return to summer swimming in 2021, we offer the following resources to help in your planning:
- Webinar Recording: Covid Planning Roundtable for Leagues
- Checklists for Covid Planning
- Virtual Meets
- USA Swimming Resources
Webinar Recording: Covid Planning Roundtable for Leagues
We recently hosted a roundtable webinar with some SwimTopia leagues to share ideas and best practices about holding a Covid-safe season. The conversation was led by Tracy Nelson, SwimTopia’s Director of Customer Success, who is also an assistant coach for a year-round team and a co-head coach for a summer team in Austin, TX. Joining the conversation was Elli Overton, SwimTopia’s Director of Sales and Marketing, 3-time Olympian, and former summer team head coach; along with Joel Shinofield, the Managing Director of Sport Development at USA Swimming.
The discussion was very informative and offered tips about safe ways to conduct practices and meets. We heard great input from Joel at USA Swimming about how year-round teams have been handling safety protocols for their teams. USA Swimming has been monitoring Covid incidents with its teams, and through their studies, they’re finding that there are very few secondary outbreaks because teams are following strict safety protocols.
We also talked about the many decisions to be made along the way, and the importance of appointing a Covid subcommittee who can begin making those plans now.
We invite you to watch the video of our webinar, to help jumpstart your planning for 2021:
In the webinar, we referred to a series of checklists that will help your team make plans for a safe return to swimming:
Checklists for Covid Planning
We’ve put together some lists of things to consider for a modified season in the Community section of our Help Center. While our lists are quite comprehensive, there will be other things to consider for your own league, and we hope these lists can be a good launching pad for other considerations.
- Pre-Season Planning and Actions, including:
- Set up Covid Planning subcommittee
- Create Covid illness policies
- Communicate with families
- Planning for Practices, including:
- Number of swimmers per lane
- Changes to practice hours/times to accommodate fewer swimmers at each practice
- How to get swimmers safely in and out of the pool area
- Planning for Meets, including:
- Virtual meets
- Multiple shorter meet sessions, divided by age range
- More spacing in the meet layout
- Keeping parents and spectators out of the pool area, but informed about the meet progress
Feel free to add comments or questions to each topic in our Community. If you “Follow” the topic, you’ll be notified when others add comments as well.
With our meet management system, Meet Maestro, you can conduct virtual swim meets where each team competes from the safety of their own home pool. Meet Maestro is the only meet management software that allows simultaneous virtual competitions with live scoring as soon as each swim event is completed.
Parents can keep up with meet day excitement when the SwimTopia mobile app is combined with Meet Maestro, including great features such as swimmer history, heat sheets, and team scores. And SwimTopia Mobile is helpful to keep parents updated about the progress of the meet, featuring a live event/heat bar, estimated start times (updated in real time), upcoming swim reminders, and live results notifications. This can keep parents in the loop, especially if you’re asking them to remain away from the deck except when their child is swimming. (Some features require a Pro upgrade)
Meet Maestro comes free with all SwimTopia accounts, so for teams who are using SwimTopia for team management, you’ll receive Meet Maestro at no extra charge.
For teams who haven’t yet switched to SwimTopia and who wish to continue using their own team management system, we’re offering a Covid special to help teams get back to meets again as easily as possible: Meet Maestro accounts are FREE to swim teams through July 31, 2021.
USA Swimming Resources
USA Swimming has posted a very helpful Coronavirus Resource Guide for its club teams, and the following items may be of particular assistance to summer swim teams:
- Facility Reopening Plan Guidelines (see social distancing practice layout slides at the end)
- Template Waivers
- Pool Diagram Blanks
- CDC Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds During COVID-19
As you can see, there is a lot to think about, and fortunately we have time to plan for a modified season. Even if the season won’t look the same as usual, any sort of modified (and safe) swim season is better than no season. The goal is to get our swimmers back in the water and bring our families back to their beloved swim community.
Evan Nylander, from the Atlanta Swim Association (the largest swim league in the US, with 120 teams), shared ASA’s philosophy about their modified swim season in 2020: Let’s work together on how we can have a season, rather than why we can’t.
Join our Community to get the discussion started, get your Covid subcommittee rolling, and dive in for a safe and fun 2021 swim season!