Swimming with COVID-19 Protocols

As things continue to open up (in some places), for many of us we have access to pools for the first time in months.  While it’s amazing to be able to swim laps, the process of getting into the pool and how long we have to swim once we are there has changed dramatically.  

Here in New Hampshire, our local YMCA opened for lap swimming on June 3, 2020.  Instead of being able to show up and drop in for lap swimming at any time, there’s now a procedure to follow.  First off, all lap swimming times must be reserved.  My local YMCA uses the Motion Vibe App for reserving pool times.  Pool sessions are one hour long with 15 minute breaks between sessions (e.g. 5 a.m. – 6 a.m., 6:15 a.m. – 7:15 a.m., 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.).  Sessions are available to reserve 24 hours before the start time and you may only reserve one session per day (more on this later).  If I want a 5 a.m. or 6:15 a.m. session on a Monday, I need to reserve that session early on Sunday morning.  The morning sessions fill up really quickly.  In some ways I’m lucky.  Down in Pennsylvania, Coach Stacey‘s sessions are limited to 45 minutes with 15 minute breaks between sessions.  I’ll take the extra 15 minutes here.

Physical distance markers used to wait to get into the pool.

Once you have your reservation you are expected to arrive 5 to 10 minutes prior to the start time and line up (with masks on) outside the pool door.  Each swimmer then has their temperature taken and is asked a series of health screening questions prior to being allowed into the pool.  Masks must continue to be worn on the pool deck walking to the locker rooms and in the locker rooms themselves.  The locker rooms themselves are fairly normal with the exception that two out of every three lockers are zip tied shut to encourage physical distancing and there’s no one in the locker room except swimmers.  Once your gear is put away, you must shower before returning to the pool deck (again wearing your mask) and claiming your lane (it is nice to have a lane all to yourself).  Once you’re at your lane you can remove your mask for the duration of the swim workout.

Pre-swim health questionnaire.

Here’s where things get tricky.  By the time I’ve gone through the screening and locker room processes, usually 5-10 minutes have passed, leaving 50 – 55 minutes to swim (and even less if someone arrives late and prevents the guard from getting to the lifeguard chair).  With that amount of time, I’ve needed to re-assess swim workouts.  I try to get 2500 or so yards in, but obviously things like drill work, kicking, and sets that involve a lot of rest can reduce the total amount of yardage.  I’ve also asked if I can combine two swim sessions, but for now the answer is no.  What I’ve generally done is a fairly short warm up, main sets of 100s or 200s (often with paddles) and a short cool down.  I find that anything shorter than 100 eats up a lot of time because of the rest interval.  While a longer interval, like a 400 or 500, could result in more total yards, right now I need to focus more on speed than endurance.

Welcome back (I love my local life guards).

While I was able to get back to “normal” swimming fairly quickly, I also have the advantage of a swim background and 30+ years of muscle memory.  For lots of people it’s going to take a little longer to feel comfortable in the water again.

For a first swim back I like this workout.  It’s about getting into the water and getting comfortable.

First Swim Back

Warm Up: 4 x 50 Freestyle. Very easy.

Main Set:

100 Freestyle
60″ Rest
50 Freestyle
60″ Rest
100 Freestyle
60″ Rest
50 Freestyle
60″ Rest
100 Freestyle
60″ Rest

4 x 50 Freestyle  with 30″ rest between 50s.

Cool Down: 200 Yards. Mix in odd stroke (butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke) and kicking if you’d like.

I missed my pool (Keene, NH YMCA).

Once you feel comfortable in the water, here are a couple of workouts that work well for most people in under and hour (or in 45 minutes if need be).  If you need more time shorten the warm up and cool down.

200 – 50 Splits  (1800 Yards Total)

Warm Up: 4 x 100 For each 100 alternate 50 drill of your choice / 50 swim

Main Set:

4 x (200 Hard, 50 Drill / Easy)  200s can be done with paddles of your choice.

Cool Down: 4 x 100 For each 100 alternate 50 drill / 50 swim

100-50-100 (2000 Yards Total)

Warm Up: 1 x 200 Easy Swim; 2 x 50 Kick

Main Set:

6 x 100 Free will Pull Buoy (30″ rest between intervals)

6 x 50 Free All Out (15″ rest between intervals)

6 x 100 Free with Pull Buoy (30″ rest between intervals)

Cool Down:  1 x 200 Mixed strokes

Hard Paddle 200s (2600 Yards Total) — If you are time crunched do three intervals instead of five in the main set.

Warm up: 1 x 200 Easy peasy;  2 x 100 Kick

Main set:

5 x (200 Paddles All Out, 200 Easy with optional Pull Buoy)

30″ Rest Between intervals.

Cool down: 1 x 200 Mix in easy odd strokes.

I feel like this applies to a lot more than swimming.

And for when I have a little more than an hour, I’m just waiting to do this workout.

All. The.  Paddles. (3400 Yards Total)

Warm Up: 1 x 200 Easy

Main Set:

30 x 100 PADDLES.  15″ rest between intervals. Try to keep the pace consistent throughout all 30 100s.

Cool Down: 1 x 200 Easy

If you have questions about getting back to swimming, let us know.  We’re here to help.

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