Guide to Swimming and Safety in the Iowa City Area During COVID-19

When I think about summers growing up, I immediately think about swimming. My grandparents had an amazing in-ground pool and hot tub. I learned to swim at a really young age and spent many hours each summer swimming in that pool. Some of my fondest memories include diving for rings in the deep end, playing “mermaid” in the shallow end, and trying different stunt jumps off the diving board.

Now, as a parent, when I think about the number of times I was left alone to swim and do anything I wanted in the pool, I can’t believe it. Then again, it was the 80s. And although it feels cliché’ to say, times were different then.

For my own kids, we take a variety of precautions while swimming. Last summer, we signed up for six straight weeks of swim lessons and it paid off. My daughter is now very good in the water. My son is three years younger than my daughter and he had a more challenging time with lessons. We will try again after the pandemic.

It is important to stay educated about swim safety. Check out these eye opening facts about swimming deaths and injury:

  • Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death and disability for children from birth to 14 years of age
  • Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1-4 years old
  • Children 1-4 years old are more likely to drown in a pool
  • Children 5 years and older are more likely to drown in open water

These facts should freak you out. They freak me out! Education and prevention programs can significantly reduce water injuries and deaths.

A local source for safety related products and resources is the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Safety Store. The Safety Store was created to improve the health and well-being of all children by offering families injury prevention safety products at a reduced cost and providing education on how to use these products correctly.

For swimming, the Safety Store offers Coleman Heads-up Life Jackets for infants and children, RoShamBo sunglasses for infants and children, as well as LuvBug UPF 50+ sunscreen towels to keep your children safe during your next summer adventure! Visit the Safety Store online at uichildrenssafetystore.org.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, hospital visitor restrictions are in place and external community members are not allowed in to shop inside, but you can still shop online. If you have any questions, email [email protected] or call 319-356-3543.

Before you and your family head out for your next summer swim, the Safety Store offers these life-saving water safety tips:

Swimming Pools v. Open Water

Swimming in a pool is a much safer choice than swimming in open water (ponds, lakes, and rivers). Swimming pools have defined depths and clear water which makes it easier to notice someone who is struggling to stay above water or has already slipped under. Choosing a pool with a lifeguard is even safer as guards have special training and equipment to conduct a rescue.

Open Water Swimming Safety

If you are planning to swim in open water, only swim in a designated swimming area where watercraft are not allowed. These areas are inspected for drop-offs and potential hazards. Never dive into ponds, lakes, or rivers as water depth is unknown and you don’t know what lies unseen beneath the surface of the water. Watch for unexpected drop-offs and currents while wading in open water.

Know your Child’s Swimming Ability

No matter where you choose to go swimming, parents and caregivers should know their child’s swimming ability and always have eyes on their children when they are in water. Careful, active supervision is key in preventing drowning. Make sure children always wear a life vest or life jacket that will keep their head above water when they become tired. Inflatable toys, like water-wings, are not dependable to keep children afloat and can deflate in seconds. Besides wearing a life jacket, teaching your children how to swim, especially how to float when they get tired, is one of the best defenses against drowning.

Know the Signs of Drowning

Did you know it takes an average of 20 seconds for a child to drown? An estimated 60 percent of all drownings are witnessed, because people are unable to identify the four signs of a drowning victim. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Head back (bobs up and down above/below the surface)
  • Mouth open, no sound
  • Arms outstretched moving simultaneously in an above-the-water, up-and-down stroke that appears as if they are slapping or playing in the water

To help rescue someone struggling to stay afloat do not go near them as they could pull you under and cause you to drown. Extend a pole, stick, line, or throw something floatable to them.


Iowa City Swim Areas During COVID-19

Not all of us are ready to dive right in to being out and about yet (see what I did there?). That’s okay. Do whatever you feel comfortable with. If you are going to go out in public — remember to practice social distancing, good hygiene, and bring masks for when you are walking and lounging near the water.

Please note: This information was current at time of publication and may change. If you plan to visit one of these locations, be sure to check their website, or call for the most up-to-date information.


Swimming Pools

City Park Pool: Closed

Outdoor Pool
200 E. Park Rd., Iowa City
319-356-5108
Website

COVID-19 Modifications: Closed for the season.

Coralville Aquatic Center: Open

Outdoor Pool
1513 7th St., Coralville
319-248-9330
Website

Hours:

  • Coralville resident-only early admission: 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. (daily)
  • Monday – Friday: 12 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
  • Monday – Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday – Sunday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

COVID-19 Modifications:

  • Pool capacity and waiting lists
  • New hours and Coralville resident-only early admission
  • Reservations for summer camps and day care groups
  • Extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Coralville Rec Center: Open

Indoor Pool
1506 8th St., Coralville
319-248-1750
Website

Hours: Hours vary each month.

COVID-19 Modifications:

  • Pool capacity and waiting lists
  • New hours and Coralville resident-only early admission
  • Reservations for summer camps and day care groups
  • Extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

North Liberty Rec Center: Outdoor Closed, Indoor Lap Swim Only

Indoor and Outdoor Pools
520 W. Cherry Street
319-626-5716
Website

COVID-19 Modifications:

Mercer Park Aquatic Center: Closed

Indoor Pool with Outdoor Wading Area
2701 Bradford Dr, Iowa City
319-356-5109
Website

COVID-19 Modifications:

  • The pool will eventually reopen through a phased-in approach
  • It will be limited to lap swimming
  • Expect increased social distancing and hygiene practices

University of Iowa Campus and Rec and Wellness Center: Closed

Indoor Pool
309 S. Madison St., Iowa City

319-335-9293
Website

COVID-19 Modifications:
No updates at this time.

Robert A. Lee Rec Center: Closed

Indoor Pool
220 S Gilbert St., Iowa City
319-356-5100
Website

COVID-19 Modifications:

  • The pool will eventually reopen through a phased-in approach
  • It will be limited to lap swimming
  • Expect increased social distancing and hygiene practices

Splash Pads and Fountains

Fairmeadows: Open

2500 Miami Dr., Iowa City
Website

Tiffin: Open

809 E. Marengo Rd., Tiffin
Facebook

Tower Court: Open

1124 Tower Ct., Iowa City
Website

Wetherby: Closed

2400 Taylor Dr., Iowa City
Website

Closed due to construction beginning in July.

Penn Meadows: Closed

170 North Dubuque St., North Liberty
Website

Closed for the season due to COVID-19.


Beaches and Outdoor Parks

Be sure to review the latest closure information from the Iowa DNR before you go. It’s unclear what facilities, amenities, and rentals are currently available at these outdoor parks and recreation areas due to the ongoing pandemic.

Pheasant Creek Recreation Area: Open

4530 McClintock Rd., Palo
Website

Lake McBride State Park: Open

3525 Highway 382 NE, Solon
Website

COVID-19 Updates: Beach closures are possible due to large crowds. Check for signage in the parking area when you arrive.

Coralville Lake Sugar Bottom and West Overlook Day Use Beaches: Closed

2850 Prairie Du Chien Rd NE, Iowa City
Website

Kent Park: Open

2048 Hwy 6 NW, Oxford, Iowa
Website


This post was sponsored by the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Safety Store. The Safety Store serves families across the state and is committed to making your child’s world a safer place. Trained Safety Store educators guide families to the appropriate products to help keep their kids safe. Shop the online Safety Store for a variety of items, from car seats, safe sleep products, and bike helmets, all at affordable prices. ICM was compensated for sharing this piece.

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Linda, a Michigan native, moved to Iowa City in 2011. She is the Director of Women in Science and Engineering at the University of Iowa but enjoy summers off with her two children: Quinn (7) and Isaac (4). Linda has been married to Jacob for over ten years. Together, they enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (shhhh!), going on adventures both big and small, and playing board games (they have over 100!). Linda enjoys reality television and can often be found watching a Bachelor franchise show while curled up in her “mom chair” with her favorite quilt. Linda is often told she has two volumes ON and OFF. No matter the volume she uses, Linda is an “old soul” with a love for baking, embroidery, and old movies.

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