Covid-19. At the pool, is there a risk of contamination when swimming? We answer you

Covid-19. At the pool, is there a risk of contamination when swimming? We answer you


Even if the holidays are over, it is still possible to cool off by going to the municipal swimming pool. You can also do lengths or water aerobics for those who like to exercise. But is it risk-free? Can we be contaminated in the water? Ouest-France will answer you.

Many readers have contacted us by email about possible contamination with Covid-19 by swimming pool water. With the resumption of sport, from swimming to water aerobics, some people are worried about their health. Can you be contaminated in the pool water? We get back to you.

According to an opinion from the USA Society, published in March, “no study concerning the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in swimming pool water is currently available”. Swimming pool water does not seem to be a good place for the virus to survive, the pools being treated with chlorine and other disinfectants. Chlorine generally kills most microorganisms within 30 minutes.

“The water in public swimming pools is filtered, disinfected and disinfectant”

For its part, the Brittany Regional Health Agency (ARS) indicates in the preamble of the Sanitary Guide for the reopening and operation of public swimming pools, that “the water in public swimming pools is filtered, disinfected and disinfectant. Water treatments, when they are well mastered, make it possible to meet the physical, chemical, and microbiological standards set by health regulations and are capable of eliminating microorganisms – including viruses – without irritating the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. “

In fact, if contamination were to take place in a swimming pool, it would come more from promiscuity with a person carrying the virus. It is possible to get infected by a sick person if they are blowing or projecting contaminated droplets nearby. And when swimming, this risk may be higher, since you tend to expel water through your mouth and breathe hard.

Watch out for contaminated surfaces

The risk can also come from the contact points: when you touch a metal ladder, a doorknob, a deckchair. Moreover, Bruno Grandbastien, hygienist and president of the USA Society, indicated in August to France Info that “on a deckchair, the virus could theoretically survive a day”. It is, therefore, necessary to remember not to touch your face and to wash your hands after swimming.

Forbid access to people with respiratory signs

To avoid any contamination, swimming pools must implement a sanitary protocol. ARS Bretagne, for example, in the Sanitary Protocol relating to the reopening and operation of bathing establishments, recommends, among other things, to prohibit “access to people with respiratory and digestive signs”, to define a plan “Movement of users and staff and put in place the corresponding signage”, to limit the number of visitors to the establishment, etc.

As for aquagym or aquabike activities and learning to swim, they are possible but must be done in limited numbers and respecting the rules of physical distancing.

“Viral load is destroyed quickly in the water”

Due to its very structure, the coronavirus cannot survive for long in a water environment. On France Info, the president of SF2H explained that “the viral load is destroyed quickly in water. We can find RNA (genetic trace) of the virus several days later, but that does not mean that it is infectious ”.

So, unlike so-called naked viruses because they are not enveloped, which “are generally much more resistant in the environment and can survive for several days in the water”, as the SF2H indicates, “the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in the humid and water environment is not known but could be similar to that of other human coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV ”, ie shortly. Bruno Grandbastien explains that their “envelope is made of a lipid layer which does not mix well with water, and can even make it explode”.

“Some Important precautions to take When Swimming”

Even if swimming is a universal sport, suitable for everyone, it is worth remembering some precautions to take.

Musculotendinous injuries

Paradoxically, top-level swimmers are little affected by injuries, due to the quality of their lifeguard training and the mastery of their technical movements. Injuries are more frequent in the regular swimmer (several sessions per week) and less in the occasional swimmer. These are mainly tendonitis (inflammation of the shoulder tendons and in particular the cuff of the rotator muscles of the shoulder) which will be indicated by pain. While the shoulder is the joint most commonly affected by tendonitis, especially in shoulder-demanding swims such as the front crawl and butterfly stroke, the spine and knees can also be affected by pain.

What to do to prevent shoulder pain?

  • Vary the types of strokes by avoiding specializing in the same stroke.
  • Breathe instead on the side opposite the painful shoulder because the pain often occurs on the side where the swimmer is breathing preferentially. Alternate breathing is, therefore, a good way to avoid tendonitis
  • Avoid pronounced bending of the head underwater
  • Obtain the advice of a trainer. It is difficult to analyze, while swimming, the quality of his technical gesture or the placement of the line of the shoulders. These small technical faults significantly increase the risk of tendonitis
  • In the event of pain, the mileage should be reduced, or even stop for a few days to give the shoulder time to rest
  • To avoid the onset of new pain on recovery, you have to swim smoothly, avoiding paddles for a few sessions, and of course weight training.

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