, Director of Swimmable Water Programs
Posted: March 19, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Hello everyone,

How are you doing?

We are here for you.

In the face of the coronavirus virus pandemic, most of us are practicing “social distancing.” Swim Drink Fish, the organization behind Swim Guide, has adopted these practices. We’re encouraging our staff and network to always follow the advice of our health experts. This means working from home, hand washing, and keeping the physical distance needed to protect vulnerable people and to “flatten the curve.”

As you know, Swim Guide is a global platform. We’re fuelled by the incredible work of local communities and amazing individuals and organizations. We are a community of 100 Swim Guide affiliates who contribute water quality data in 11 countries. Everyone is experiencing their own local reality of this coronavirus pandemic.

We are here to listen and help when possible, with our expertise and with something Swim Guide prides itself on: caring about communities and providing reliable and current information that people need to keep healthy.

In the coming weeks, Swim Guide will be sharing what we learn about Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact it will have on beaches, recreational water quality, and recreational water activities. We will do our best to help you find places you can connect with nature and still practice social distancing. We’ll also be working to create a dialogue on mental health during this unprecedented time.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Our affiliates in 11 countries are also sharing information about their local situation, especially as it relates to recreational water quality, beachgoers, and the wellbeing of their communities. We encourage you to follow your local health units and Swim Guide affiliates for the most up to date and local information.

You can access our list of coronavirus-related USA beach closures and recreational water quality monitoring changes and pauses here. This list will be updated regularly as information becomes available.

Here’s what we know right now about beaches, recreational water, and your health in the new reality of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

1. Keep your distance from other people
Practicing social distancing is essential right now. Follow the advice of the health experts. If your community has asked that you remain indoors and away from others, do so. Heading to the beach should only be considered an option if social distancing practices can be followed. Spending a day in any crowded place is the worst thing we can do for our most vulnerable right now and will counter the efforts to curb the virus’ spread.

2. Be safe on the water while alone
Staff and services at the beach are closing in order to help communities stop the spread of the viruses. That means lifeguards, first responders, and service staff are likely not reporting to work. Be aware that if you are visiting a beach, you’re on your own if you run into trouble.

If you’re swimming or engaging in other recreational water activities, make sure you are with someone from your household. This is not the time to test your abilities. If you are taking your children to the beach as a way to get out of the house, keeping them safe while in the water is solely your responsibility. When in doubt, stay on the land and enjoy the view.

Photo by D L

3. Covid-19 and recreational water illnesses
Recreational water quality monitoring is still taking place in most regions (as of March 19, 2020). Make sure, now more than ever, to heed recreational water quality warnings. Science is emerging hour by hour on the transmission and the impact of Covid-19. As of March 18, 2020, we know that Covid-19 does present gastrointestinal symptoms, and the virus is present in feces.

However, whether you can contract the illness through contact with feces is not clear. Health experts, such as the CDC, explain that the virus is transmitted primarily person to person, within about 6 feet (1.5 meters), and through respiratory droplets produced when someone sick coughs or sneezes. Follow social distancing practices while at the beach.

Our communities can come through this difficult time more resilient, more aware of their connection to nature, water, and with a deeper appreciation for the values of interconnectedness and respect for the well-being of others.

We’re here for you. Please reach out with your questions and suggest topics we can cover that will help you and your communities right now.

Join us on social media and take part in the conversation on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Be well, and let’s talk,


Here is a list of Swim Guide’s COVID-19 articles, resources, and updates:
Covid-19 and recreational water quality
US State Beach Closures and Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Suspensions
Ontario beach closures – COVID-19
Can I go outside during coronavirus?
Will it flush? The novel coronavirus special edition

Other resources:

Coronavirus (Covid-19) and sewage:
Fecal Evidence of COVID-19 Raises Transmission Concerns:
CDC Covid tranmission:
Social distancing:

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Swim Guide shares the best information we have at the moment you ask for it. Always obey signs at the beach or advisories from official government agencies. Stay alert and check for other swimming hazards such as dangerous currents and tides. Please report your pollution concerns so Affiliates can help keep other beach-goers safe.

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