Swim Meets in the era of COVID-19


Normally this time of year I would be reminding you to get your timing equipment out, clean and test everything, update your computer and get an RMA from us for any items that need repaired. If you are going to be able to start your season, go ahead and do all of that! Call us at 800-835-2611 or email [email protected].  This year looks like it’s going to be very different from previous years because of the pandemic. If you are able to practice and hold meets, here are a few things to keep in mind

Learn about COVID-19

There is a lot of information out there on the virus, and it changes nearly daily. Keep up with the latest science and recommendations.

USA Swimming has a Facility Reopening Plan Guidelines for club teams. They also have a COVID News page on their website with links to information and resources.

The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) is the best place for high level info on what sports can participate and how for high schools. They have a document that you might find helpful: Guidance for Opening Up High School Athletics and Activities.

The NFHS also has a free course on COVID-19 that coaches can take: COVID-19 For Coaches and Administrators. There are lots of other great courses on NFHSlearn.com too.

The NFHS isn’t a governing body. They can only make recommendations to the member State Athletic and Activities Associations. This means that in your state the rules may be very different. Be sure to check with your State Association or State Coaches Association for their rules and guidance. Finally, your league or district may have additional rules. Also, you will have to abide by your state government’s executive and emergency orders, so make sure you check those.

In Person Meets – Some Considerations

If you can run your meets in person, there are some things to think about. How many people will be on deck, including athletes, coaches, officials, timers and the computer operator. What equipment will need to be sanitized? Likely that will be anything that gets touched by multiple people. What will you use to clean and sanitize? Who will be in charge of making sure it happens?

Secondly, can you social distance? If not, will you require everyone to wear masks? If everyone is wearing masks, what will the swimmers do with theirs while they are racing? You don’t want a swimmer picking up someone else’s mask – that could be a recipe for disaster! Consider getting a hanging organizer with pockets, enough for each team member to have their own. Hang it on the wall behind the lanes and label the pockets with the swimmers name or  a number for each team member. That way, as the swimmer gets ready to step up onto the block they can drop their mask in their pocket, and pick it up as soon as they finish the race and put it back on.

Finally, what will you do about spectators? Can they social distance? Will they be required to wear masks? Will someone be assigned to enforce mask wearing? What kind of signage will you need? What if you can’t have spectators? Can you download some crowd noise and play it during the meet? Could you have one parent in the stands live streaming the meet from your public Facebook or Instagram page?

Virtual Meets – Some Considerations

There is a possibility that meets will be run “virtually” with both teams swimming in their own pools. The NFHS and some State Associations will be releasing guidance for these meets in the coming days.

Virtual meets will still require non-team personnel. At minimum there will need to be a starter/referee, just like in a normal dual meet. You will still need backup timers and a computer operator. Check the NFHS and NISCA websites for their guidelines on running virtual meets and requirements for National Records and All America swims. That information should be coming out soon.

How will you set up a virtual meet? Will the coaches be required to release their lineups prior to the meet? Will both teams live stream the event? Will both teams swim at the same time? Alternate events so the swimmers on team A can watch team B’s live stream of the 50 free, and then swim their own 50 free while team B watches?

Who will oversee the meet results? Will both teams send results and score the meet to make sure there is agreement? How will the results get combined? Who will oversee posting the results?

How will you generate the excitement of a meet for your team at their home pool with no opponents and possibly no spectators?

There are so many things that are going to be different this year. If there is anything that we here at IST can do to help you make it run more smoothly, please let us know. In the meantime, good luck and be well!

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International Sports Timing, Scoreboards, Grand Rapids, MI
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