Swim Practice Social Distancing Protocol

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The SeaWolves Swim Team, located in Georgia, started training with Social Distancing protocols in late February, before stay-at-home orders were in place.  The SeaWolves started with 2 small training groups so they could document their workouts, sets, and processes just before they had to stop swimming in order to have videos and methods ready for training the rest of their swimmers when the team came out of hibernation later.  This early experimentation with social distancing protocols gave the SeaWolves the chance to evaluate what would work and what wouldn’t.  They quickly decided that all of their swimmers needed to have a ‘home base’ to return to as their new ‘starting wall’.  When 1-2 of their swimmers were starting at a wall, it was a physical disadvantage to those in the same lane that were starting away from the walls.   They also learned that the process of rotating the stopping locations (such as rotating who was at the wall each set) was far too confusing and created accidental ‘pile-ups’ between swimmers, even though the SeaWolves were training with headsets so the coach was talking to each swimmer 100% of the time.  Still, accidents happened and swimmers ended up stopped in the same locations.  So their experience taught them that;

  1. It was best to assign a ‘home’ position for each swimmer.
  2. The ‘home positions’ all needed to be away from the walls so no one had an advantage or disadvantage.
  3. The ‘home positions needed to be marked by a unique color, both below the lane line as well as something standing up well above the lane line so it could be seen when swimming on the back or on the stomach for any type of kick or swim sessions.
  4. Each swimmer needed a way to store their equipment at their ‘home’ position to avoid going back to the walls for gear changes and thus avoiding any ‘pile-up’ at the walls between sets (and also save time in the workouts).
  5. Their gear storage needed to be out of way and not drift/float into the lanes when circle swimming.

The process the SeaWolves developed allowed them to fit as many as 5 swimmers per line and none of them were starting/stopping at a wall position (1 under each backstroke flag, 1 at each red line, and 1 in the center of the pool).   However, a 6th location was possible at the wall, as long as that was for the leader in each lane and not the last person in the lane.  If the last person in the lane is on a wall, they will easily push off and run into the person in front of them due to the clear advantage of a wall push compared to a start without a push.  So as long as the front lane leader is on the wall and the other 5 swimmers are stationed along the lane line, this can work but not ideal.  The layout the Seawolves used with 5 positions down the lane creates about 12 feet from each swimmer in the same lane and 8+ feet between swimmers and the swimmers in the lanes next to each other.

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About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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