My Turn: Let the swimmers swim

The recent decision by the BIIF executive board and school ADs to cancel winter sports was the wrong decision for swimming and spring board diving for that matter.

Swimming is not a contact sport, competitors are not even close to each other and the medium they compete is a great sanitizer called chlorine. The Center for Disease Control came out with a report that the safest place to be was in a swimming pool as long as the CL, or chlorine levels, were maintained at International levels. That would be 1.5 to 2.0 ppm. Hawaii County pool’s CL are kept on average at 2.0 or higher.

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I know. I was a county Senior Lifeguard for 11 years with extensive training in managing pool water safety. The county required us to be trained to guard against bacteria that can be found in pool water and harmful to pool patrons.

Swimming would be the most controllable sport against the covid virus as the swimmers would be literally drenched and sanitized in chlorine from head to toe, constantly. The starting blocks and lane lines are approximately 8 feet on center exceeding the 6-foot social distancing requirement. And, of course, the pool deck would be sanitized from the chlorinated pool water as swimmers enter and exit the pool.

Swimmers and officials could easily maintain 6-foot protocols along with coaches and teammates. What about schools that have a large contingent of swimmers?

Split the BIIF between East and West Hawaii in using the 50-meter pools of Kawamoto and Kona Community Aquatic Center pools that could easily accommodate large teams. Besides, they are open to swimmers now. What about swim officials, there’s not enough to service both sides of the island. No problem, coaches are very knowledgeable in the technical aspect of swim rules and could easily fill in. Every team has at least two coaches.

There are swimmers who have trained from an early age, 8 years old for some, who have worked hard for at least 10 years, and their senior year is an opportunity for them to do their best and maybe, just maybe get a scholarship to swim at some college as a reward for all of their hard work. I have swimmers who attributed swimming in helping them to get to college, some on scholarship and another to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But they all agree that swimming helped them to be focused in setting goals. They now attend or have attended Lewis &Clark Law School, University of San Francisco, Arizona State University, University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hilo, Hawaii Community Collece — Palamanui, Daytona State, Florida and Indian River State, Florida University and Harvard University.

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So why cancel swimming? Change the ruling let the swimmers swim.

Jeffrey Coakley is a resident of North Kohala