Space to Swim: Corvallis Pools Open Safely

As with many businesses, pools and gyms closed when Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown issued  a stay-at-home order on March 23. Now under Phase Two of reopening, local pools are finally able to welcome the people of Corvallis back to their facilities.  

“Honestly, we didn’t think we’d be able to reopen at all. It’s nice that there’s some flexibility in Phase Two for us to reopen some services and programs,” said Patrick Rollens, Osborn Aquatic Center’s Public Information Officer.  

Osborn Aquatic Center, the pool managed by the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department, is now open for swim lessons, lap swims, and small group exercise classes, though they will evaluate their services through the month of June to better serve the public during the pandemic.   

Oregon State University’s Dixon Recreation Center also just opened on July 15. The facility frequented by students and OSU members has been almost solely maintained by Justin Gordan, the Aquatics Director, for the past two months, but now student workers are allowed to return as the pool slowly opens.   

“We’re operating under these circumstances until anything else is loosened up, and then we’ll operate under those circumstances. So it’s just kind of a wait and see type program at this point,” Gordon said.   

Operations for the Dixon pool entails frequently sanitizing hand rails and pool ladders, allowing only one swimmer in each lane at a time, using the diving area to add more swim lanes, and requiring facemasks everywhere except for in the pool.  

In order to comply with the Oregon Health Department’s standards, both the Dixon and Osborn Center have had to readjust their swimming lanes and their class protocols. No classes are currently being held at Dixon in an effort to maintain social distancing, but Osborn is holding classes with extra precautions, such as smaller class sizes. For individual classes, instructors will keep a six feet distance from the swimmer, though parents may assist their children.  

Additionally, the Osborn staff has reconfigured the pool’s layout to ensure a safe distance between swimmers and is consistently sanitizing commonly touched spaces. Locker rooms and showers are closed for the foreseeable future and reservations are required for lap swimming.   

“We’re committed to helping our community adjust to the ‘new normal’ as we reopen and learn to live with the COVID pandemic. It’ll require some creative thinking, but that’s what we’re good at! We’re keeping the health and safety of our staff and patrons at the forefront,” Rollens said.   

Though this season looks different from past summers, both pool directors are happy to be open at all, and the public seems happy to have them back.  

“[For] a lot of people, that is they’re go-to exercise – swimming laps and being able to get in some exercise. It also helps to decrease the stress that everybody’s facing right now, to be able to come into an area and feel safe and still be able to exercise and get out of their home,” Gordon said. “So we’ve found that it’s been very beneficial and we’ve had a lot of the same people that normally came in when we were open that have now returned and feel good about swimming again.”