Swim Meet Adapts to Coronavirus Protocol

Ella Vaught, Reporter

Christiansburg Aquatic Center where the H2Okie Winter Champs Meet took place.

This past weekend, the local swim club, Rockbridge Storm, competed in the H2Okies Winter Champs, which was the one of the first major swim meets that has occurred since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just like everything else that has occurred this year, there were changes and restrictions in order to comply with safety measures and protocols. 

In a typical swim meet, swimmers arrive early for warm-ups in their practice suits and then hop in a lane for a short warm up. These warm-ups usually have six to 10 people in a lane, depending on the size of the team as well as the number of swimmers competing that day. However, in this most recent meet, only five swimmers were allowed in a lane at all times.  Additionally, there are typically 500 to 1,000 swimmers, coaches, officials, and spectators at this pool; however, there were fewer than 200 people at this meet, none of which were spectators. Normally, all of the swimmers, coaches, and officials are on the deck, cheering on their teammates or relaxing after a race while all of the friends and family are on the above deck watching the races and waiting for the swimmers to come up in order to congratulate them. At this most recent meet there was a one-way “deck flow” that only allowed swimmers to walk in a clockwise motion, and the only time swimmers were allowed at the end of lane was during the 500 Freestyle, where one counter was allowed to stand. 

Upon arriving at the pool, swimmers were also required to turn in a signed waiver and have their temperatures taken. If anyone had a temperature over 100.4℉, they were asked to wait for a few moments, after which their temperature was retaken. If it remained higher than 100.4℉, they were asked to leave and not allowed to compete. After one’s temperature was taken, swimmers were given a basket to keep their belongings in while racing. These may include a cap and goggles, a parka, a towel, and a mask. Masks were required to be worn at all times, except when swimming, which meant that swimmers’ would wear their masks until they got to their lanes to compete. As soon as they were done, they were required to put it back on. Swimmers were also not allowed to share snacks, towels, clothing, or masks during the meet and had assigned seats ten feet apart from one another on the upper deck. 

On December 15, Rockbridge County Athletics decided to cancel Winter sports. Many of the swimmers on the RCHS team are devastated that they will not be able to compete for the rest of the season, myself one of them. This means that this past meet was one of the only meets that most of the RCHS swimmers will compete in this year. This fact saddens many swimmers, including myself, who may not be able to achieve their goals this year due to the cancelation of the season.