PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– The Panama City Swim Team has been able to continue practicing this summer despite the pandemic. The team started practicing again at the Frank Brown Park Aquatic Center when the governor’s stay-at-home order was lifted in early May.
The Tsunamis have been taking several precautions to ensure all swimmers and coaches are safe.
Locker rooms are closed and each swimmer must bring their own equipment. Equipment is kept in each athletes’ individual bag at the end of lanes.
Swimmers start at opposite ends of the lanes that are 25 yards apart. The lanes are already seven to eight feet wide.
The team is also using the entire pool. That allows for there to only be two or three swimmers in each lane.
Panama City Swim Team head coach, Brian Haddad, said he is proud of how well things have gone. However, he said it took a lot of planning and help from professionals to get practices up and running.
“What we have to make sure and do is we allow people to put together good smart plans,” Haddad said.
He said once those plans are made they should be constantly evaluated to see how things are going.
“Physical activity is so important for kids these days,” Haddad said
Haddad said those in athletics should be thoughtful and make sure they are offering the best total health package possible to athletes.
“I think too often we just cast it off as oh we just need to shut them all in, oh you don’t care if people die and things like that, that’s not how conversations need to go,” Haddad said.
The Tsunamis are gearing up for their first competition since the pandemic. On Saturday they will swim at Frank Brown Park, and record their times. Another team will do the same at their home pool and the two will compare results.
Haddad said they eventually want to get back to normal competition. He said that may happen in late August or early September, but for now, they are going to work on what they can control.
“We basically took this as an opportunity to really work on some core fundamental basics, which is going to help us in the long term tremendously,” Haddad said.
The members of the team who are also on high school swim teams have been able to practice much more than other swimmers in the country. A majority of pools closed because of the pandemic, however, the Frank Brown Aquatic Center has remained open.
Haddad said Frank Brown is able to be an example to other facilities across the country as to how aquatic centers can be kept open safely amid the pandemic.