COVID-19: Reducing infection risks for swimmers explained

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October 5, 2020 4:00 PM

With the new unlock rules, the swimming pools will now be open for professional swimmers.

Re-chlorinating regularly as well as keeping a check on pH levels is most important.

For months, due to the risk of Coronavirus transmission, swimming pools have been closed. With the new unlock rules, the swimming pools will now be open for professional swimmers. Indian swimmers have been in Dubai for the last two months practising for next Olympics as Indian pools were closed. Now, when the permission for reopening of swimming pools has been given, guidelines for reducing the Coronavirus infection can be laid down.

According to a report by The IE citing India’s national coach Pradeep Kumar, the experience of national swimmers Kushagra Rawat and Srihari Nataraj has paved a way for the COVID-19 related protocols in Indian pools. Just like the pools in Dubai as per the UAE’s guidelines, the maintenance of water is important for elite swimmers in India as well. In Dubai, the chlorine pH levels in the pool water were kept at 7.4 / 7.6, for a 2 parts per million proportion of chlorine to water and this had to be maintained at all times. Further, the water temperatures ought to be maintained at 27-28 degrees Celsius. Kumar said all these rules have to be followed with no compromise. Swimming pools need to be scientifically and properly maintained, Kumar said adding that in India, many people tend not to not follow rules and this can prove to be harmful. After a period of time, the effectiveness of chlorine levels can wear off, which in times like these cannot be allowed to drop. He further said that re-chlorinating regularly as well as keeping a check on pH levels is most important.

Further, the report noted that overcrowding can lead to problems. As the pools have been closed for months, it is likely that there will be an attempt to make up for all the losses by allowing more people in the pools but this has to be resisted in order to prevent the viral transmission. It said that there should be strict protocols for the number of swimmers, lane discipline, the direction in which to swim as well as minimum distance that has to be maintained.

Apart from this, athletes’ temperatures have to be checked before they enter the pool. Kumar said that in Dubai, even if there was an increase of 0.01 degrees in temperatures, the athletes were asked to wait for at least 10 minutes in the isolation room and then were re-tested with thermal scanners. With the acceptable body temperatures, they were allowed to enter the pool. The swimming pools along with ladders, holding grills, changing rooms also need to be sanitised after every use.

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