By Bill Plock
Open water swimming is happening, but if you missed out on the “swim lottery” and are hoping to swim, things may change soon.
303 made a stop last week at the gravel “pond” at Chatfield State park. The park zoomed with paddle boarders, cyclists, fishermen, boaters, campers and swimmers of course. At first glance, other than people wearing face masks, it seemed like a typical summer day.
At the swim beach several groups including the Rocky Mountain, CWW, and YTT triathlon clubs carved out space on the beach for a monitor to check in and out swimmers. As it stands right now, those groups, plus COMSA (Colorado Masters Swim Association) and a few other groups are the only ones allowed to host open water swimmers. This isn’t different than past years, but what has changed is the number of people allowed access and how the groups work together. This year each group offered a limited number of swim spots to their members. Members are then required to sign up for a time via an ap and each group provides a monitor to ensure people arrive at their time and enter and exit the water. The idea is to allow only 10 people at a time to enter the water and then stagger groups of 10 over the allotted open water time. Thus the limit of total swimmers per group. The groups with permits have been working together to minimize the total number of people congregating and people are being asked to not gather on the shore before or after swimming and to wear masks to and from their car.
In the past, people who didn’t belong to any other groups holding permits could swim by joining COMSA and basically show up during open swim times and check in with the monitor on duty. COMSA held a sign up for swimming and currently is not offering swim spots. But that could change.
According to COMSA chair, Chris Nolte, “we are hopeful that when and if Governor Polis increases the group gathering size from 10 to 25 we will be able to offer more swim spots, so keep checking our website. https://www.comsa.org“
Chatfield is the only public option for open water swimming. The rangers and park staff are no doubt keeping a close watch on swimmers following the rules. A couple of other lakes opened briefly and then closed, so be sure if you do go swim, follow the rules.