Winter 2020-21: Return to Competition

Updated: December 3, 2020

December 3 Update

Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, the 2021 IHSAA State Swimming Championships will not be held at the University of Iowa’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. The meet’s substitute site will be announced as soon as possible.

The state meet is currently scheduled for February 13, 2021. The meet has been at the CRWC since 2018 and the IHSAA is looking forward to working with the University of Iowa for the event in the future.



This document should be considered as providing recommendations from the IHSAA for member schools and may be updated before and during the winter 2020-21 season.

People (players, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) feeling sick or that have been exposed to someone sick, should not attend or participate in competitions or practices. The IHSAA and IGHSAU strongly encourages all participants and spectators to practice social distancing and wear face coverings whenever possible. Local policies may vary, including requiring face coverings for spectators.

Schools are asked to read a public address announcement at the start of each event encouraging social distancing (ex: arm test) and remind spectators to do their part to keep their kids healthy and active.


Pre-Meet & Practice Procedures
  • Reference USA Swimming Pool Reopening Guidelines.
  • Disinfect pool area before and after practice.
  • Leave the facility as soon as reasonable possible after practice; no congregation after swimming.
  • Suggest increasing chlorine levels to 2.0 (CDC FAQ: There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus)
  • Encourage athletes to use their own training equipment or state that equipment is not to be shared.
Swimming Rule Considerations
  • Conduct: Encourage athletes to arrive at venue already in competitive attire or provide alternative accommodations for swimmers to change that allows for 6 feet of social distancing.
  • Have a plan in place to utilize locker rooms.
  • Lap Counting: Only one person per lane should be permitted at turning end. Provide hand sanitizer and require lap counters to clean hands and wipe down devices.
  • Pre-Meet Conference: Decrease number of participants or hold one conference with coaches and one meeting with captains. The referee can use PA system or starting system microphone to allow participants to hear but keep them properly separated.
  • Referee and Starter: Various rules require interactions between officials, coaches and athletes. Alternative methods for of communications include utilization of the PA system, hand signals or written communication. Masks for officials are allowed and encouraged.
  • Notification of Disqualification: Notification shall occur from a distance via use of hand signals or the PA system.
  • Meet Officials: Officials responsible for information processing are often located together at a desk/table adjacent to the competition course or in an office/remote location. Develop alternative methods for submitting entries and movement of non-electronic information. Require a distance of 6 feet between individuals seated at the desk/table. Masks for officials are allowed/encouraged.
  • Timers: Timers must assemble at the finish of each race, at the edge of the pool within the 6-8 feet confines of the lane which they are timing. Timers are strongly encouraged to wear cloth facial coverings. Watches and clipboards should be sanitize prior to and at the conclusion of the meet.
  • Submission of Entries to Referee : Alternative forms of entry submission can be designed to reduce face-to-face interaction when submitting a proper entry, where/how/to whom entries are submitted, and a reduction or elimination of certain penalties currently attached to improper entries.
  • Relay Takeoff Judges and Relays: Require all takeoff judging from the sides of the pool. Space relay swimmers apart from one another. Timers and relay takeoff judges are strongly encouraged to wear cloth facial coverings.


Other Meet Guidance & Considerations
  • Swimming Warm-up Areas: Establish multiple sessions for warm-up periods to limit number of swimmers per lane. Restrict the number of swimmers in competition area. Limit number of swimmers per lane during warm-up and warm-down periods.
  • Teams Seating and Lane Placement: Keep the teams on opposite sides of the pool and require the home team to compete in lanes 1-3 and visitors to swim in lanes 4-6.
  • Post Race: Swimmer finishing that finish their individual race along with relay anchors that finish in the water should swim to the opposite end of the starting blocks and exit to limit contact with timers.
    Preparing Athletes for Competition: Athlete clerking areas should be eliminated.
  • Handshakes: No handshakes between teams.


Considerations for Coaches
  • Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents.
  • Consider conducting workouts in “pods” of same students always training and rotating together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
  • Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice in case contact tracing is needed.
  • Team Gatherings at Meets: Social distancing from other teams as much as possible is strongly recommended. This would be a good reminder for parents as well.


Considerations for Student-Athletes
  • Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies (water bottle, hand sanitizer, face mask, towel, etc.)
  • Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout immediately upon returning home.
  • Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices.
  • Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
  • Cloth face coverings are permitted.
  • Bring your own water bottle.


Considerations for Officials
  • Bring personal hand sanitizer. Wash hands frequently.
  • Do not share equipment.
  • Follow social distancing guidelines during pre- and post-meet conferences and during contests.
  • Consider using electronic whistle.
  • Do not shake hands or fist bump other officials, players or coaches.
  • Officials may wear cloth face coverings at all times.


Considerations for Parents
  • Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.
  • The use of cloth face coverings is strongly encouraged. In addition, social distancing is strongly encouraged as much as possible for non-participants, parents, coaches, officials, and other event volunteers.


Considerations for Administration
  • Facility Sanitization: Consideration should be given to which facilities are going to need sanitization, how often will sanitization be needed, who will be doing the sanitizing.
  • Locker rooms may be utilized however the Department of Public Health guidelines must be adhered to.
  • Awards ceremonies: Consideration for options that would allow social distancing for the athletes, coaches, and spectators – consider other alternatives such as not having awards ceremonies, strongly recommending the use of cloth face coverings for any individuals attending the awards ceremonies if there are alternative options
  • Admission may be taken using sanitization practices or a free-will donation container is an option as well.
  • For additional COVID-19 guidance, please contact the Iowa Department of Public Health at (515) 281-7689 or visit their website at
  • Postseason: Potential options shall be considered regarding the district and state meet depending upon the status of Covid-19.


For COVID-19 related information on all IHSAA winter activities, please visit:

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