In consultation with its Member Clubs and based on the success of last year’s cohort mitigation strategies, Swim Alberta and its Member Clubs are happy to welcome swimmers back to the pool through the launch of our We Are Ready Campaign.
Swim Alberta is committed to safety as a priority for our membership, proactively monitoring the situation and working alongside our partners and stakeholders. Swimming is perhaps one of the few sports that can offer an early entrance back to sport because of our unique chlorinated environment.
“The effects of the pandemic are far reaching and we are committed to the safety of our membership as we look to return to training in a more fulsome way, in full compliance with Alberta Health requirements,” shared Dean Schultz, President of Swim Alberta. “We are pleased to share our evidence-based approaches and the protocols we have put in place to ensure the safety of our membership since last March 2020.”
Over the last several months, Swim Alberta has put in place effective protocols to support the safe return to swimming that all member clubs are required to follow. Swim Alberta has worked closely with the Government of Alberta, Municipalities/Facilities and other key stakeholders to ensure we are meeting or exceeding all required protocols of Alberta Health including the development of robust return to training requirements that mitigate the risk of COVID-19; conducting research that demonstrates the safety of swimming; supporting clubs to effectively implement all return to training requirements; and, working closely with facility operators to collaborate on a safe return to training that incorporates not only Swim Alberta safety requirements, but also additional protocols facilities have put in place.
In November of 2020, Swim Alberta coordinated a Research Group of medical experts who studied the cohort model of swimming that was in place from July – November of 2020. During this period, 73 Swim Alberta registered club programs supporting 5,446 registered swimmers, forming 332 cohorts from 32 communities across Alberta participated in 31,635 hours of group training or 223,324 hours of individual training. During that period there were ZERO transmissions of COVID-19 within the cohort swimming model, noting only 14 cases of COVID-19 reported, all from outside of the daily training environment.
While it is still unclear whether the cohort model or the chlorinated daily training environment of an aquatic facility contributed to the lack of transmissions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has addressed swimming safety on their website and advocates for safe swimming using public health protocols. Furthermore, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta has indicated that the “evidence suggest that COVID-19 cannot be spread to humans through most recreational water. Additionally, proper operation of theses aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19”.
Swim Alberta believes that swimming is and remains not only a vital life skill but a sport and activity that is safe for Albertans during COVID-19, while adhering to enhanced guidelines as outlined by Alberta Health.
The pandemic continues to create serious mental health concerns among Canadians. In January of 2021, Swim Alberta launched a mental health and wellness initiative. We heard directly from our membership through our interactive trainings the negative effect the pandemic was having on them. Although Mental Health and Wellness programs are helpful in supporting the youth and adults that form part of Swim Alberta’s membership, the opportunity to return to training in a more traditional way is imperative for the mental and physical health of individuals and for the larger health of our community.
Link to Swim Alberta Study Findings: A safe return to sport and the right to play during COVID-19
World Health Organization Link: Water or swimming does not transmit the COVID-19 virus
Swim Alberta is the provincial governing body for competitive swimming in Alberta. Our vision is “every swimmer has the opportunity to reach their full potential” and our mission is; “Govern, Lead and Support Competitive Swimming”. Swim Alberta has over 11,000 registered swimmer members ranging in age from 5 – 85; incorporating year-round, summer, masters and varsity swimming programs. Club programs provide programming from Learn to Swim introductory levels through to Olympic level athletes.
For more information please contact:
Cheryl Humphrey, Executive Director – Swim Alberta