By Julia Pepler
Summer is almost in full swing. With temperatures rising, cool lakes, rivers, oceans, and pools are looking very appealing. But a lot of people are wondering if they'll catch COVID-19 from swimming this summer.
The short answer is that researchers believe catching COVID-19 from swimming is extremely unlikely.1 What is more likely, it seems, is catching the virus from close contact with other people at the beach.2 It’s believed that well-kept swimming pools would have enough chlorine to kill the virus3 and large bodies of water will dilute the virus to a point that it does not pose a huge risk.4 The information we have suggests that if the proper precautions are taken, swimming can be a great activity during the coronavirus pandemic.
We know that swimming, or even just being by the water, improves mental health and reduces stress. In these uncertain times, swimming could provide people with much-needed relief and distraction from their daily lives.
During this global pandemic, extra measures should be taken to swim and visit the beach responsibly. We’ve compiled a list of some steps you should take in order to enjoy the water this summer.
Feeling sick? Stay home!
This goes without saying, but if you are feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, do the right thing and stay home. You risk getting other swimmers sick by visiting the beach or pool.
Know where to go
Vancouver has seen huge overcrowding as beaches have opened up in the past few weeks. Avoid the busiest beaches, like Kitsilano and English Bay Beaches in Vancouver. We've got some suggestions for quieter beaches near Vancouver to visit here.
Check the water quality
While you might not get sick from COVID-19 in the water, there are other bacteria and viruses that can cause illness, like E.coli and Giardia. Before heading to the water, check your local water quality information on Swim Guide’s free website and app to ensure that you know if the water at your beach is clean for swimming. We share beach info on Swim Guide from Metro Vancouver's water quality monitoring program, which collects weekly rec water samples from May to September.
Always abide by social distancing
Splashing around in the water, it can be easy to forget about social distancing practices. Ensure that you’re keeping 2m away from people who aren’t in your “bubble” and do your part to keep others safe.
Assess your ability
Regardless of a global pandemic, always check in with your swimming ability. If you are not comfortable swimming in deep water, for long periods of time, or in strong currents, stay in shallow areas! During the COVID-19 pandemic, lifeguards and rescue teams might not be as available as we are used to. Always go with a buddy and make sure you are taking every precaution to stay safe.
Normal facilities at the beach might not be open to the public yet. Be sure to bring food, water, and hand sanitizer to ensure that you’re ready for a lack of amenities down at the beach.
If you are able, we hope you can visit a beach near you and relax by the water. We are all in need of some time away from the news, out of our homes, and immersed in nature. We encourage you to do so responsibly and with the safety of your community at mind.