Purpose-Driven Aquatics Are Essential: Open & Keep Pools Open for Public Health & Safety

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Over 10.5 million people participate in aquatics exercise in the United States annually. Purpose-driven aquatics, such as swim lessons, water fitness and rehabilitation, lifeguard training, and competitive aquatics, ensure our communities’ mental and physical health and safety. Thus, it is therefore essential that pools be open.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through chlorinated water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Proper operation of these entities (such as those at an apartment complex or owned by a community) and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should also inactivate the virus.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a warning of an increased threat of child drownings this summer. While many community pools remain closed due to the pandemic, families and individuals looking to get in the water are turning to pools, lakes, and beaches that have little or no lifeguard or parental supervision.

Furthermore, unlike other activities, swimming does not require direct contact and can be facilitated while adhering to social distancing guidelines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, purpose-driven aquatics can be done in a way that mitigates the risk of its transmission, and thus, indoor and outdoor pools should open, and stay open, to allow these critical activities to resume as soon as possible. 

To be clear, the Coalition is not advocating to open pools for unrestricted recreational use, but instead for purpose-driven aquatics. These activities help keep our communities safe and healthy in light of these realities:

  • Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children under the age of four, and disproportionately affects marginalized communities. With public pools closed, more people find privately-owned pools and natural bodies of water that can be unguarded and thus more dangerous. Drowning risks increase with the lack of access to guarded, managed aquatic facilities.
  • Swim lessons and lifeguard trainings are critical all year round to protect children’s safety and save lives.
  • For many people, including seniors, lap swimming, water exercise, and injury rehabilitation are vital components of mental and physical health, and may be their only form of exercise. Additionally, regular exercise can reduce risk factors for severe COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has been devastating to local and national businesses including swim lesson providers and coaches that have been furloughed or laid off. Revenues for facilities have diminished and teams/organizations that rely on those operational venues are suffering. These small, often family-owned businesses are at risk of unrecoverable economic damage if services do not resume soon.

Aquatic participants and facilities can lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission by following strict safety protocols including observing social distancing in and around the pool and facility, maintaining proper water sanitation levels and air quality measures, performing frequent cleaning and sanitization, and conducting regular symptom screenings of aquatics staff and participants.

We, the undersigned, ask lawmakers and public officials across the country to open, and keep open, indoor and outdoor pools to help ensure the safety, health and well being of our communities.