What to expect at area pools this summer
June 13, 2020: Updated with new guests insights. If you’ve been to one of the area pools let me know what it’s really been like!
It’s official. We are now in yellow. Progress for sure, but a lot of questions remain as to what summer will look like under this new normal including, and perhaps in my opinion, most importantly – where will we swim?
Memorial Day has come and gone, temperatures are climbing yet, many pools except those privately owned remain closed – although, not for long. Under updated guidance from the state, pools in Pennsylvania are allowed to operate in the yellow phase as long as the facilities follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under this new direction, local pools are getting ready for the start of the 2020 swim season.
ACAC opened their pool for lap and recreational swim last weekend. Rosyln and Wedgewood swim clubs are planning to open today. The Waterview swim club will follow on Monday, and YMCA Water Park at Airport Road may be opening their waterpark on Saturday, June 20.
Due to the extra costs and staff needed to keep a pool operating safely this summer, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine has announced it will only be opening three of its pools this summer, one of which is their waterpark at Airport Road. And then, only if they get 500 memberships by June 11. Want to join? You can sign up here.
Ok, pools are open, but does that mean you should go? It’s obviously an individual choice, and most pools are offering refunds if you prepaid and choose not to participate, but local facilities are going to great lengths to keep members safe.
Is it safe to swim?
According to the CDC, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus.” So the real concern is not with the activities in the water but rather those outside of it.
What changes are being implemented?
Pools will be open but only under strict safety guidelines. So while the water may still be refreshing on a hot July day, much of the rest of the experience will not be the same. Here are some of the changes you can expect to see.
Masks required. Most pools are requiring masks at some point – usually when entering and leaving the facility or in shared spaces (like locker room facilities). However, masks are not required or advised to be worn in the water. We’ll see how long these requirements hold up. Even now ACAC is only requiring staff to wear masks.
Social distance requirements enforced. Social distancing of at least six feet between people who don’t live together needs to be maintained both in and out of the water – this includes kids.
According to one ACAC member, Sheena Ahlmer, “They have social distancing signs and tape marks for social distancing at the entrance and the snack bar, but only added markings by the slide when I requested them. They responded that, ‘The CDC guidelines specifically state that guards are not to be managing the social distancing guidelines, but rather the safety of guests in the water. We will rely on parents to assist with the rules around the pool as it relates to social distancing.’”
We’ll have to see how strictly this is all enforced as summer unfolds.
Plan to bring your own chairs. The YMCA and Rosyln said they are removing pool provided chairs as they are just too hard to keep disinfected. Members will need to bring their own seat. ACAC has left its chairs in place but is asking that families pick a seat and stay there. No switching, even if you leave to go to the other pool. ACAC also said they will not be providing or allowing any pools toys, noodles or kickboards. Check, similar restrictions may be in place at other locations as well.
Limited guests. Expect caps on occupancy levels to help allow for proper social distancing. Rosyln told members they would limit access to 150 members at a time. The YMCA will not be allowing pool members to bring guests to help keep the numbers down. While, ACAC is asking that members sign up ahead of time to reserve their space at the pool.
Slides will be closed. The CDC recommends slides be cleaned and disinfected after each use, which is nearly impossible to keep up with. ACAC has announced their slides are closed, as has the Y. However, the pirate ship at the Y will remain open.
No swim meets. The Southern Chester County Swim League (SCCSL) announced late last month it would cancel the 2020 swim season. Even should the county reach the “green” phase of reopening, the numbers and social distancing requirements would not add up. “We could not hold any type of meet with the number of swimmers, parents, coaches and officials in attendance at a meet, even in the green phase,” League President Deb McMahon stated in a letter.
Fewer, if any events. Pool barbeques and kick off parties will likely be suspended this year. As gatherings of more than 25 people are not allowed under “yellow” and it is just too hard to maintain social distancing requirements.
Summer is here. COVID-19 or no COVID-19 there is no stopping it. We will swim. We will barbecue, We will listen to music. We will drink lemonade. Hey, we’ll even dine outdoors. It will all continue just perhaps on a smaller scale than in years past.
Where are you swimming this year? Ready to brave public pools? We found this secluded spot along the Brandywine the kids are in love with.
Plus, last summer’s swim guide, if like me, this is exactly the time of year you start thinking about swim memberships – a perfect time to get in line for next summer!
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