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March 26, 2020 37 min

Hannah Sassi is a virologist from the University of Sydney who studies the persistence of viruses in the environment. She is also an ocean swimmer who trains with BondiFit, whose local beach is Maroubra. Right now during the Coronavirus pandemic, many swimmers are wondering whether it is OK to go for a swim. At the time of recording, a lot of world is in lockdown or headed towards it, so some of this is a moot point. If the local laws say don't swim, then obviously, don't swim!

In summary, should you swim right now?

  • In public pools: NO
  • In ocean pools: NO
  • In the ocean: If you take social distancing very seriously. But don't be a dick, if the beach is closed or you're in lockdown, don't swim.

While a properly cleaned pool will kill the virus, the virus can live for a long time in the surrounding environment and everywhere you go on your way to the pool. And in such places where people exercise, people tend to be breathing heavily. Viruses can persist for a longer period of time in fresh/salt water, and so there are further risks with ocean pools, especially those that don't get flushed or cleaned regularly. If you want to swim, swimming at some distance from others in the ocean is the way to go.

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