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Have a safer swim

A child in a life jacket swims on a paddle board with an adult and other kids nearby.

July 15, 2021—A swim in a pool, lake or river can be refreshing and fun. And if you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there's little risk from diving right in. But there may still be some times when COVID-19 affects your plans to enjoy some time in the water. Here's what you should know.

What are the risks?

First, the good news: There's no evidence that the coronavirus can spread through the water. And if your pool uses chemicals like chlorine or bromine, they should inactivate the virus.

But that doesn't mean that swimming poses no dangers. Popular swimming areas draw crowds, and the virus can spread through the air between people who get too close. That's much less likely if you're fully vaccinated. People who haven't been vaccinated, like children younger than 12, should stay 6 feet away, whether in or out of the water, from people they don't live with.

That may be difficult to do at a crowded community pool or beach. So depending on the virus's activity in your community, pools and other popular swimming areas may close from time to time to help contain the spread. Check the advice of your state and local officials before you go. And, vaccinated or not, follow the rules of the pool or recreation area.

Be splish-splash safe

Say you're a parent who is vaccinated and wants to take your children younger than 12 swimming (an age group not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for unvaccinated swimmers:

  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Try to go when the pool or swimming area is less likely to be crowded.
  • Remember: Stay at least 6 feet from people you don't live with—on land and in the water.
  • Wear your cloth face mask on land. But don't wear it in the water. That may make it difficult to breathe.
  • Don't share goggles, nose clips, snorkels, pool toys or other personal items.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Pack hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfectant wipes, tissues and paper towels to use as needed.

If you prefer not to risk a public setting, a private kiddie or inflatable pool may be the next best thing. But be sure to constantly supervise children in and around the water.

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The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.