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Checklist for swimming and water exercise

Colunista: Marcelo Barros de Vasconcellos


According to Australian researchers, daily exercise can contribute, in individuals, to physical, psychological, emotional well-being1. In addition, a group of researchers from Italy, USA, Spain, Hungary and China claim that exercise can also promote cardiorespiratory fitness; longevity; help combat some comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and serious heart disease; reduce the harmful effects associated with quarantine in the brain and increase the immune system2.

Even aware of the benefits of physical activity, before making the decision to reopen the pool for swimming and water aerobics classes, try to plan actions to minimize the risks of contagion from Covid-19 and ensure the safety of the people involved in the establishment, directly and indirectly.

Gym owners should assess whether the economic benefit outweighs the risk of life and lawsuits by recklessly reopening space. Clients should assess whether the health benefits through the practice of aquatic activities, with physical distance, outweigh the risks for themselves and others, because even if they are without symptoms of Covid-19 they can be the vector for the spread of the disease to other people and, therefore, daily screening and constant monitoring of clients will be important.

The following is a suggested checklist to be used in aquatic facilities that offer swimming and water aerobics classes when aquatic establishments are allowed to operate. The list was built based on the search for recommendations and protocols for safe reopening of swimming pools by the International and State Swimming Federations, World Health Organization, Disease Control and Prevention Center, Brazilian Association of Academies and the Regional Physical Education Council.

The actions proposed in the check list refer to four moments of how the client should act to minimize the risk of contamination / transmission of Covid-19: 1st moment before going to the swimming school, 2nd moment before entering the pool, 3rd moment when using the pool and 4th moment when leaving the pool, after swimming or water aerobics class. After organizing the items in this checklist for each stage, a survey was carried out with people linked to the aquatic segment in order to verify the knowledge of the prevention protocols of Covid-19 and analyze the suggestions of these health professionals linked to aquatic activities. .

The result of the Survey with (n) 133 people from the aquatic segment, composed of owners (16.5%), coordinators (17.3%), teachers (53.4%) and interns (12.8%), among June 13th and 17th, 20203, showed that the percentage that agree with all the following measures that the client must perform in each of the 4 moments was 90.8% for the recommendations before going to the swimming school, 93.1% for before entering the pool (in the water), 95.3% for when using the pool and 96.9% for when leaving the pool. These results show that the highest prevalence of doubts is about how they should manage their first contact with clients at the swimming and water aerobics school.

Check list 1st moment ✓

What the client should do before going to swimming and water aerobics school

  1. Inform the teacher if you have had personal contact, without protection, with someone who has had Covid-19 in the last 15 days.
  2. Schedule your class in advance and arrive a few minutes before it starts.
  3. Check if other clients will take classes with you, especially if you are over 65.
  4. Only go to class if you are feeling well, in good health and wearing a mask.
  5. Check that the staff / teachers are free of illness and able to deal with the new situation.
  6. Bring a bottle full of water to avoid touching the tap or the handle of the water source.
  7. Wear your class attire at home, preferably.

Check list 2nd moment ✓

What the client must do before using the pool (still out of the water)

  1. Undergo screening at the entrance to identify if you are free of disease (asymptomatic or not).
  2. Avoid touching, if possible, doors, fences, benches, door handles, etc.
  3. Use a mask and slipper until you reach the pool.
  4. Clean your hands and technical equipment (glasses) with 70% alcohol gel or use disinfectant soap and water.
  5. If necessary, use the locker room to remove clothes and leave them in the bag, wash your hands with soap and water.
  6. Keep space between users during routes / changing rooms in order to avoid crowds.
  7. Bath to remove impurities normally found in bodies.
  8. Step on the washing machine or carpet with sanitizing substance.
  9. Hang your towel or robe individually on the support of the pool area.
  10. Check that you do not need the physical support of the teacher, he will avoid being in the water, as it is a priority to keep a safe distance of at least 2 meters away.

Check list 3rd moment ✓

What the client should do when using the pool (being in the water)

  1. Do not make physical contact with other people such as shaking hands or hugging.
  2. Exercise far from your colleagues and stay at least 2 meters away from them.
  3. Avoid touching your face.
  4. Do not share food, drinks or equipment.
  5. When pausing, keep an adequate physical distance from other clients.
  6. Avoid using equipment and only use it if it was previously disinfected.
  7. Make sure your teacher will wear a mask or face shield if you need to have his physical support.

Check list 4th moment ✓

The client must do after using the pool (when leaving the water)

  1. Put on your mask.
  2. Wash your hands well or use 70% gel alcohol.
  3. Avoid using the changing room.
  4. Bathe yourself at home, preferably.
  5. Do not fraternize.
  6. Leave the premises as soon as possible.
  7. Demand cleaning of the stairs, beacons and edges of the pool.

There are clients who exercise in swimming and aqua aerobics by medical recommendation, whether to exercise only in water depending on their health status (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, obesity, fibromyalgia), pregnancy or because of respiratory diseases (bronchitis, asthma, rhinitis). However, there are those who seek aquatic exercise for the various benefits that activity in the liquid environment provides. For both groups, those who can only exercise in the water or for those who chose to benefit from it, this period of closing the gyms changed their way of longing to be back in the pool.

For many people, it is not just about doing beneficial physical activity in the water but returning to the environment that gives it life. Whoever exercises or works in the liquid environment, in this closing period, feels like a fish out of water or fish placed in an aquarium. When assuming that the client was forced to go to the aquarium, know that it is possible to keep the life of these fish there for a period of time, but the fish needs to renew oxygen, change water, have more space to move around and see others fish.

May the pool become a totally safe place to swim and exercise again. May new studies soon create a vaccine for Covid-19 and an effective treatment for the disease.

Thanks to David Szpilman for the suggestions for preparing the research.


Hughes D, Saw R, Perera NKP, Mooney M, Wallett Al, Cooke J, Coatsworth N, Broderick C. The Australian Institute of Sport framework for rebooting sport in a COVID-19 environment. J Sci Med Sport. 2020;23(7):639-63.

Woods J, Hutchinson NT, Powers SK, et al.  The COVID-19 Pandemic and Physical Activity. Sports Medicine and Health Science. 2020; Epub.

Vasconcellos, MB. Uso de máscara e protetor face shield nas atividades aquáticas. Revista Empresário Fitness & Health. Julho de 2020.

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