Nov 6, 2020 | SPORTS | By Daniel Soares | Photo by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez

Mirroring almost every aspect of our lives due to the pandemic, swim season this year looks a little different at Colorado College. In contrast to the typical crowded lanes during practice and high energy cheering at meets, the Schlessman Natatorium is a lot emptier and quieter nowadays.

In response to the coronavirus, several restrictions at the pool are in place in an effort to keep swimmers safe. To encourage social distancing, the swim team has been divided into two separate time slots for practices, each being 1.5 hours in duration (a reduced length from previous seasons). Since there are only 16 people per practice, two swimmers are assigned to each lane. Within the lanes, both swimmers are required to start on opposite ends and stay on their own side so that they do not swim next to each other.

Like the rest of the students currently on campus, the swim team takes random COVID-19 tests every other week, but upon arriving at the pool, each swimmer is also required to do a COVID-19 check-in with lifeguards. Properly worn masks are required at all times up until the moment before they hop in the water. In order to reduce the number of people in small, enclosed spaces, the swim team cannot use the lockers or showers, meaning that they must show up to practice already wearing their suits and change in front of their lanes. While the coronavirus cannot spread through the water [see an explanation below], the risk of spreading the virus is still present outside of the pool, so both the pool deck and benches are cleaned after every practice.

The Colorado College Tigers’ first meet is this Saturday, Nov. 7th. The Tigers will be competing against Ohio Wesleyan University in a rather unique fashion. Rather than facing off in person as they would normally, swim meets throughout the rest of the semester will be held virtually.

For each race, swimmers will compete against each other from their respective pools, with each school sharing times with each other to determine the standings. So that the number of swimmers at the pool can remain low, the men’s and women’s teams will be assigned to different sessions.

Fortunately, these remote meets are currently only scheduled for this semester. COVID-19 restrictions permitting, regular swim meets, as well as the conference meet in February, are expected to resume in-person attendance.

According to the CDC, there’s no evidence that COVID-19, or other viruses, can spread through the water in pools. Despite many efforts to explain why chlorine is effective against viruses, the most conclusive statement that scientists are able to make is that the levels of chlorine used in public pools render the virus inactive. The use of chlorine as a disinfectant has been widespread for over a century. Since 1908, chlorine has been used to treat drinking water and is largely credited with eradicating the spread of typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and other waterborne diseases.

To clarify, this isn’t to say that chlorine can stop the COVID-19 pandemic, simply that chlorine prevents the virus from being able to spread through water. Chlorine is thought to kill viruses by destroying their proteins, which prevents viruses from being able to enter the cells of humans. While chlorine is a great choice for disinfecting water, as lower levels are non-toxic to people, it can take as long as 15 minutes for chlorine to completely kill a virus, whereas alcohol is able to kill a virus in 10 seconds. This means that you should not rely on pool water to keep your hands clean and should still make sure to use hand sanitizer (and wear a mask!) to keep yourself safe and healthy.

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