By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
The Recreation Center in Lynnwood welcomed people back to the pools with the implementation of a slew of new safety standards to enjoy swimming safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
After being closed since the onset of the pandemic, lap swim at the recreation center is now open with a few modifications, as well as the Recreation Center’s wellness pool for physical therapy.
According to Aquatics Recreation Manager Bill Haugen, during the facility’s closure period, staff members worked diligently towards preparing the pools for when they could reopen, planning preventative measures to mitigate potential virus spread.
Right now, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the use of recreational waters, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Social distancing recommendations still apply in or out of the pool and they recommend avoiding pools where swimmers cannot stay at least six feet away from others.
“During swims now, we have anywhere between ten to sixteen people in the pool,” said Haugen. “Normally, we would have an open swim of over 300 in the pool.”
The facility faced a few options to encourage people to stay socially distant in the pool, Haugen and his staff preferring to place one person per lane rather than having a designated staff member on the deck monitoring swimmers spacing even if it meant allowing more people in the pool at once.
The specific spacing that lanes provide played a considerable role in the coronavirus pool blueprint, said Haugen, to support swimmers in feeling safer frequenting the pool.
Looking for ways to increase pool capacity and keep up with demand, staff got creative with the lane placement. Instead of the traditional length stretching across the longest distance of the pool, they opted for the shorter way to allow for additional lanes.
“You go to most pools right now, they’re operating in long-pool format because that’s what you do,” Haugen explained. “Not this group, they’re amazing. They were like ‘that’s not going to work we need to get people in the water, there’s demand. We’ll go short pool’.”
Swimmers can reserve an hour-long time slot in a lane, and then in between each set of reservations, the center’s staff is tasked with cleaning and sanitizing the pool area, locker rooms and other high touch areas.
The staff has also had to implement new protocols to increase social distancing guidelines outside of the pool with a designated entrance and exit to and from the facility. Upon entrance, visitors are given a health screening and have their temperature checked.
Once the pool reopened, many community members expressed elation to see the facility open its doors back up says Recreation Center employees.
“Every time I step onto the pool deck, someone’s telling me ‘thank you for being open, this is so essential for me,” said Kate, a staff member. “They’re so happy to be back.”
For many of the pool regulars, water exercise and therapy continue to be essential to their physical and mental health, explained Aquatics Safety Officer Andrea Robertson.
“The two months they weren’t able to get into the water, you could see how they’re mobility had decreased. Those are the people that need to be in the water,” she said. “It’s been good to be able to see these people coming back in and watching it already make a difference and their movement improving over the last month.”
Swimming pools are essential to recreation center visitors like Kacey Kroeger, who experienced a traumatic brain injury and uses swimming as a means of recovery.
‘We talk about what essential means and how to keep people healthy, well this is vital to people’s health,” said Kroeger. “I’m so grateful not only for me but everybody else who I see come here. This is a healthy outlet for people and it’s making a huge difference in our lives.”