As the title says, my team isn’t returning to swimming in September. Or October. In fact, we’re going to monitor the pandemic infection rates for a while to figure out when it will actually be safe, however long that takes. And the key to this decision is that Ontario had declared that kids will be returning to school in September.
This decision was surprisingly easy to make, despite just finishing an excellent 3-week training experiment offered by the Town of Milton that went extremely well. The Town approached us about running this training trial just so that both sides could learn more about what it will take to provide a safe training environment. And we learned a lot.
We learned that my 8 most-responsible swimmers, all with roughly similar speed and endurance can easily maintain physical distancing when training in a 4-lane 25-metre pool divided into 2 double lanes. It was actually pretty easy to follow all national, provincial and local rules. We held a detailed initial coronavirus education Zoom call with the selected swimmers and available parents, and then held 5-10 minute Zoom calls before each training session.
As a coach, I also learned some of the training limitations of this setup. We did almost all 25s, 50s and 75s, with a few controlled 100s for variety. Everything had to be configured to minimize the chance of a swimmer catching up to the swimmer in front of them, while still allowing them to practice technique, drills and speed work.
So what’s holding us back from starting up in September? Simple. Some COVOD-19 stats from areas in the world that implemented full school openings are very disturbing.
As an example, notice the # of cases skyrockets following schools opening in Israel. Now, to be fair, school openings don’t always lead to soaring infection rates. But the fact that it might is enough for us to play a wait and see game.
Swimming just isn’t important enough to unnecessarily risk the lives of swimmers, coaches, or their families.