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Illinois pools reopen with constant cleaning and COVID-19 restrictions

A man dives into the water of an outdoor swimming pool of the Forum sports center, on its reopening day after over two months of closure due to coronavirus restrictions, in Rome, Monday, May 25, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has allowed Illinois pools to re-open with the imperative that pool operators follow strict CDC-recommended guidelines.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, swimming at Illinois pools this summer is reservation only and strictly limited.

Master swimmer Jill Schneeberger, 65, is a competitive swimmer on the Blue Wave swim team in Elgin. She describes herself as a cautious person, who has been staying home a lot during the COVID-19 crisis. She missed her swim workouts during the spring shutdown and signed up for lane times right away as soon as her two local pools reopened.

Going to the pools is a very different experience this summer, Schneeberger said. At the outdoor pools in St. Charles, which are normally packed and noisy, it is almost eerily quiet, she said.

Reservations and limited swim time for individuals have drastically cut down on the crowds. Before COVID-19, Schneeberger worked out for an hour and a half each time.

Under the new reservation system, swimmers are limited to one hour. At the Elgin Recreation Center, before each swim, Schneeberger is met at the door by a screener, who questions her about her health and COVID-19.

Showers are open, but they are roped off so that no one showers next to anyone else. In a place that is normally full of chatter and friends, there are no more chairs and no time or space to mingle.

Only eight swimmers can be in the water at once – one in each lane. Deep cleaning goes on between sessions. The lifeguards wear masks.

Because of all the restrictions, Schneeberger said she feels safe at both the facilities where she swims. Competitive swimming is an important part of her life, and she is very glad to be back in the water. She is concerned about rising COVID-19 numbers in Illinois, however. She said she hopes that people will keep following the CDC guidelines so that Illinois pools can remain open.

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