COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After almost two months, pools in Ohio can reopen, and on Tuesday, swim teams across the state were excited to take their training from dry land back to the water.
“I’m super excited!” said Sammy Knight, a swimmer with United Swim Association. “I haven’t been in the water and that’s one of my favorite things to do.”
Knight, 12, said she hasn’t been sitting idle while the pools have been closed.
“We’ve been doing dry land [workouts] on a zoom call like every day we are supposed to have practice. So we’ve been working hard, training, doing some workouts,” she said, but it obviously wasn’t the same as her usual practice in the pool. “Oh, I missed it so much!”
“We’ve kept them active the last seven weeks in preparation for today,” said Chris Hadden, the head coach and CEO of United Swim Association. “There’s been a ton of work this week to get everything in line for us to start today.”
That work centers around the COVID-19 guidelines Governor Mike DeWine has put in place for local and public pools and aquatic centers. Hadden has worked with the staff at Aquatic Adventures in Hilliard to make sure safety guidelines are in place.
There are hand sanitizer stations at multiple spots around the lap pool.
The facility gets wiped down every two hours.
Locker rooms are closed.
In the pool, there’s chlorine and other usual cleaning chemicals, but also UV filtration.
Then, in the last month, the facility has replaced its exhaust fan to keep air circulating throughout the building, and they’ve added fans on the pool deck to keep the air circulating across the top of the water.
Finally, the swimmers have their guidelines as well.
“Safety is priority right now,” Hadden said. “They’ve got assignments on the pool deck to put their belongings that are separated six feet apart and then we put them in the pool two to a lane on both ends.”
“I want everybody to stay safe and healthy,” added Knight. “I know everyone has family back at home they want to stay safe from corona, so I just want to make sure that everybody is safe.”
Aquatic Adventures is also opening up its facility in phases. First, they are allowing the United Swim Association teams to practice, but only in groups of 12. Then, on June 1, they will open up the facility to members but only for the lap pool. The goal is do everything in careful stages.
It will be an adjustment for everyone, but Hadden and his swimmers are just excited to be back doing what they love.
“There’s no sign of competitions any time soon, but just the fact that they can get back in, get back to training, and these kids love to be in the water. They love to work hard and so it’s nice to see them have that ability to be back and have something to work for,” Hadden said. “It’s just great to be back on the pool deck, see the kids excited and having fun.”
“I think I’m excited to see my friends even though I don’t get to be around them,” Knight said with a smile. “I’m excited to be able to see them and just that I get to get back in the water.”