coronavirus illinois

Illinois Pools Prepare to Reopen With Restrictions in Phase 3

A suburban Chicago pool will soon welcome back members for lap swimming, swim team practice and lessons.

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Pools are an integral part of summer for so many families, and as temperatures heat up, many are anxious to get back in the water. According to Illinois Gov. Pritzker's office, they will soon be able to in some capacity.

During phase three of Illinois' reopening plan, swimming facilities licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) can open for lap swimming, diving, swimming lessons, swim team practices and therapy pool use.

Western Springs Service Club plans to reopen Monday for swim team practice and lessons, but swimmers should expect to see big changes and new safety protocols.

"We won’t be using the changing rooms this summer," said pool representative Franny Naughton. "We have designated separate entrance and exit doors."

They also added contactless sinks and soap dispensers in the bathrooms, implemented a cashless concession stand, spaced chairs six feet apart, required staff to wear masks, and implemented an intense cleaning schedule.

"They will be wiping down chairs, railings, any high touch areas," said Naughton. "The counters up front. The bath house will be cleaned at least every hour."

Only groups of 10 or fewer will be in the pool at a time as others partake in "dry land" workouts in an open field on the property. Swim coaches are anxious to welcome back their teams. The Western Springs Service Club operates one of the largest summer club swim teams in the area and is the only in its conference still planning to host a team this year.

"We're feeling super comfortable. We’re going to be wearing masks. The kids won't be passing each other. They’re going to be spread out," said Madison Wanless.

Her sister is also a coach.

"We all know everything is going to be very different, but we’ve done everything we can here," Halle Wanless said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (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."

Competitive swimmer and high school sophomore Jack Wanless said he feels safe and is ready to get back in the pool.

"It's really bothering me with recruiting coming up next year and being active," he said. "Junior year is my biggest year. It usually is for upcoming recruits."

The upcoming 2020/21 season will determine if he swims at the collegiate level.

"Endurance is a huge thing. Even if we don’t get meets this summer, we need to stay in the water, so we can flow right back into the rhythm of things," said Wanless.

Currently, it's up to schools and clubs whether or not to reopen pools for athletic use.

A spokesperson with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) said “decisions regarding whether to conduct allowable activities during Phase 3 will remain at the discretion of local school authorities, in consultation with local public health departments. Therefore, if schools, in conjunction with local health departments, deem it safe to open up their athletic facilities (including their pool) for general strength and conditioning, then it would be allowable per the current IHSA guidelines."

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