Return to Sport – Swimming

Important Notice: Special Olympics Ontario swim programs may resume activity if the swimming pool offers full use of the changerooms and washrooms. Changerooms must be cleaned frequently by facility staff.

Club Guidelines:

Athletes who are unable to follow verbal instructions regarding physical distancing or who require “physical manipulation / hand over hand” instruction to complete drills are recommended to continue with virtual training or general fitness training.

It is not recommended to register “new” athletes into the sport program at this time. Athletes who are new to the sport should participate in virtual training or general fitness training.

Where in person training is not an option, consider virtual training or general fitness training sessions. Both are great alternatives and will allow coaches the opportunity to maintain contact with their athletes.

Before and After Practice:

  1. Athletes will shower at home, before and after training session.
  2. Coaches are to create and share training plans ahead of training session.
  3. Stagger activity times between different groups to create a 15 minute buffer between sessions and avoid an overlap of participants in any one area.
  4. Do not loiter in the parking lot. Get in, Train, Get out.
  5. Physical Distancing (2m or 6ft).
  6. Personal items and clothing brought in by athletes and coaches should be kept to a minimum. Where bags must be brought on deck, they must be stored 2m apart.
  7. Swimmer equipment bags can be placed 2m apart at the end of the pool. Cones/pylons will be placed on deck to mark where each swimmer should store their items.
  8. Swimmers should walk a continuous path to the pool area, no stopping or congregating along the way.
  9. Communities with mandatory Face Masks: Athletes will wear their face masks anytime they are on the pool deck and remove them when they enter the pool. Coaches/volunteers will wear face masks throughout the training session. Communities with optional Face Masks: it is recommended athletes and coaches wear face masks using the same guidelines as above.

During Practice

  1. Must not exceed the maximum gathering size for your community (Please refer to your Public Health Website). Maximum gathering size includes all athletes, coaches, volunteers, support persons and spectators/parents.
  2. Physical distancing of two (2) metres (6 feet) must be maintained by ALL participants at ALL TIMES within the pool.
  3. Maintain restrictions on the number of athletes using each lane:
    -single lanes: one swimmer per lane, swimming on top of the lane line
    -double lanes: up to four swimmers, circle-swimming on top of the lane line, with defined start and finish points for each swimmer to avoid congregation at the wall.
    Please refer to the Swim Ontario website for further explanation.
  4. All “non-essential” contacts should be avoided (handshakes, high 5’s, etc.).
  5. All skill instructions must be verbal. There will be no “hand over hand” skill instruction.
  6. Structure activities to maximize physical distancing.
  7. Design activities so athletes may stay within their existing small groups to reduce amount of contact with different people.
  8. If an athlete requires an assistant to train it is recommended that the assistant be someone from the same household. If the athlete unable to bring someone from their household, the assistant must be the same person each week. The assistant will wear PPE while working with the athlete, all assistants will go through the same daily screening check.
  9. Bring your own water bottles clearly labelled with your name – do not use public water fountains.
  10. Athletes may use only their own personal training equipment, or facility equipment that has been sanitized.
  11. Coaches should not share handheld equipment such as stopwatches, clipboards, white board markers, etc. Recommend coaches each have their own personal whiteboard kit to use as a visual aid for coaching.

Training Tips:

  • Re-imagine swimming. There may be less water time and more land work – be creative.
  • Be creative with the structure of your practice times, and the use of dryland training.
  • Train the same hours but this will be a mix of dryland and water.
  • Make it clear that there is no penalty for missing practice and that if an athlete, or any member of their family does not feel well, they should stay at home.

Click here to view Swimming Canada Return to Swimming Training Info


  1. Competition will follow Return to Competition protocols.


Each sport venue may have their own COVID-19 restrictions. Please follow the instructions of the staff.