Another open water swimming season is upon us. It’s a swim season quite different from others, as many swimmers who otherwise spend the cold months in pools have not been in the water for months. Others have likely already been swimming for weeks or months braving the cold temperatures.
As the ocean waters warm and as pools remain closed or restrict access, the call of your nearest pond or beach is strong. Being immersed in water with nature surrounding you is enticing. The question then becomes, how should swimmers approach open water swimming in the time of COVID?
My personal opinion is to embrace the ocean with caveats. You can’t stay isolated forever. There are proven psychological, physical and overall health benefits to remaining active and in the ocean.
That said, there are risks in and out of the water that you have to personally weigh. A researcher at Scripps Oceanography is suggesting sea spray can spread virus particles (LA Times April 2020). COVID or no COVID, it’s always important to swim with a companion. This should take priority, just maintain a healthy distance from each other while in the water. It’s likely the greatest risk is pre- and post-swim socializing, where you want to be extra mindful. This is the hardest part because we’ve isolated from each other for so long and by nature we as humans are drawn to each other. As a practical matter, arrive and depart as early as your circadian rhythm will allow.
For these reasons, it would be a ton of fun to continue gathering on the weekends at Nantasket Beach. That said, you have to take an approach that you’re comfortable with and that you believe will not put others at risk. I’d love to get your thoughts as well.