Oroville Orcas return to the water with new health guidelines

After months of time off due to coronavirus, the Oroville Orcas were allowed back in the water as long as they abide by new health guidelines

Posted: Jun 24, 2020 12:02 AM
Updated: Jun 24, 2020 8:52 AM

OROVILLE, Calif. - Sounds of splashing water couldn't have come at a better time. Once Butte County entered phase three of reopening, Oroville Orcas Swim Coach Alyssa Tomlinson went right to work.

"We had reached out to Feather River Parks and Rec, which is who owns the pool and who allows us to rent the pool from them," said Tomlinson. "From there, we received the local okay and the state okay to open as long as we were following state, local, and USA Swimming guidelines."

Guidelines that include temperature checks for everyone, social distancing between swimmers, and lists of health precautions given to every parent to make sure their little orca is safe.

"We're really excited to be able to allow the normalcy for the children," Tomlinson said. "I'm sure this has been a hard time for them. So to allow some of these kids to come back into the pool and, although we are social distancing, they're still seeing their friends being socially distant so I think it's really important for them and their mental well-being."

Tomlinson had to cut her usual participant size to accommodate social distancing.

"Last year we had about 76 swimmers," said Tomlinson. "This year, we had to cap it at 40, but hopefully as time goes on we'll be able to allow for more swimmers."

The CDC says that as long as swimming pools are properly maintained, the chlorine in the water should "inactivate" coronavirus, which helps prevent the virus from spreading.

While there's also no evidence that coronavirus spreads to people through the water in pools, pool-goers could still be at risk of being exposed to the virus if they don't follow health and safety precautions before and after entering the water.

That's why education is all part of Tomlinson's process.

"We sent numerous emails to our current swimmers and families so that they could better prep their swimmer for when they arrive. It is a lot harder for the younger kids. They don't fully understand, but we just kind of continue to remind them that we have to practice social distancing," said Tomlinson.

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Although temperatures began to rise today around northern California, our weather was still quite pleasant for early August. Enjoy the below-average highs will we have them, because hotter weather will return soon.
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