Read This Before You Go to a Swimming Pool

Experts say there’s no evidence that the coronavirus is spread through the water, but that doesn’t mean a pool day is risk-free

Ashley Abramson
Elemental
Published in
4 min readAug 12, 2020

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Photo: Flashpop/Getty Images

In many areas of the country, communities are reopening public pools. “This has been a record-breaking summer for heat, and since many people have been cooped up in their homes, coming out to swim can be a really nice respite,” says Jody Gan, MPH, an aquatics researcher and public health professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

Gan says that a dip in the pool is exactly what many Americans need to cool off amid the stress of the global Covid-19 pandemic, but she also warns that it’s “very important that pools are operated safely.” Like any social activity outside the home that involves being around other people, visiting communal swimming pools comes with risks if you don’t follow proper safety guidelines.

Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re going to the pool this summer.

The water provides a safety net

Before you enter the pool, survey your surroundings. “There’s always a risk of crowds coming out to cool off, so you need to look around before you even go in to sense your ability to distance yourself at least six feet from people you haven’t quarantined with,” says Cassandra Pierre, MD, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center. If you don’t feel like you can adequately distance, consider going to another pool or swimming at a lower-traffic time of day.

Experts say you don’t have to worry as much about the water as you do about the people around you, who most likely don’t wear a mask while they’re swimming. (Masks are hard to breathe through when they’re wet and are not recommended in a pool.)

Evidence shows the pool water provides a bit of a safety net: According to the CDC, there’s no evidence that Covid-19 spreads through water in pools. That’s in part because chlorine kills…

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Ashley Abramson
Elemental

Writer-mom hybrid. Health & psychology stories in NYT, WaPo, Allure, Real Simple, & more.