Return To Sport Update

 (Updated June 2021)

Legal Disclaimer


This document is provided on an "as is" basis and for information purpose only. Water polo Canada and Ontario Water Polo make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the direct, inferred or implicit information, directives, recommendations included in this document. To the full extent permissible by applicable laws, Water polo Canada and Ontario Water Polo disclaim all warranties, express or implied, including but not limited to, implied warranties related to the quality, accuracy, truth, timeliness, sequence, completeness, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, or continued availability of this document.

Water polo Canada and Ontario Water Polo shall not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the use of this document including but not limited to direct, indirect, incidental punitive and consequential damages related to the return to training or competition in Water polo. The participant in Water polo accepts to use this document and the information herein contained at his or her own risks.

The participant in water polo declares that he or she is entirely and solely responsible for the use of this document and the information herein contained, for his or her return to sport and for following public health directives as prescribed by the municipal, provincial, and federal health authorities applicable to his or her context and place of practice of the sport.

The participant in Water polo agrees to indemnify and holds Water polo Canada and Ontario Water Polo harmless from any and all losses, damages, liability and costs resulting directly or indirectly from any claim or demand against Water polo arising out of or related to the accuracy or completeness of the document, his or her use of the document or information herein contained or his or her violation of the present conditions or any applicable laws and regulations.

Water Polo participant must complete and sign the WPC COVID-19 Acknowledgement of Risks Form accessible online.




Return to Aquatics - Principles for a safe return to sport framework


The four Aquatics Canada sport organizations (Canada Artistic Swimming, Diving Plongeon Canada, Swimming Canada and Water Polo Canada) are committed to a safe and healthy return to the pool for all aquatic sport participants.  To that end, the four sports have created a joint working group to share information, best practices and align in our shared belief that a safe return is possible, and that the health of our communities remains our top priority.


Each organization has developed its own sport specific return to sport framework.  The tenets of each plan are consistent and follow all current public health information.  These include a commitment to physical distancing at all stages of training, equipment cleanliness, hygiene, health monitoring, safe sport and on-going communication.


Sport is valued by Canadians and is a proven mechanism to strengthen, unite and build Canadian communities.  Aquatic sports and our athletes are looked at as role models not only in the sport community but in the country at large. Our return to sport/work can show a way forward and can help Canadian communities re-unite. A safe return to the pool is critical to this process.


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the collective aquatics community has had to significantly adapt its routines and activities in order to prioritize the health and wellbeing of Canadians as a whole.  Aquatics Canada would like to thank everyone in the aquatics community for their leadership and commitment to flattening the curve.  While it has been difficult to step away from the pool, our efforts have played an important part in combatting the pandemic.



Establishing the Principles of Return to Sport


According to the Centre for Disease Control (USA), there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through swimming pools. COVID-19 has a fragile lipid outer membrane and is therefore highly susceptible to elimination by soaps and oxidants, such as chlorine. Proper maintenance and disinfection with Chlorine or Bromine should inactivate the virus (CDC 2020).


A return to sport must strictly adhere to the policies and procedures outlined by provincial and municipal governments and public health agencies that have been established to ensure a safe environment for all. The aquatic sports joint working group has agreed on a number of key principles that will form the foundation of the return to our respective sports.  These principles include:


Physical Distancing: Physical distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. Return to sport must adhere to physical distancing in accordance with requirements of public health authorities and facility operators. Protective mask must be worn when mandatory by your facility, city and/or SHA.


Hygiene: In addition to physical distancing, handwashing and cough etiquette add another layer of protection against the spread of COVID-19. Return to sport plans must implement and monitor appropriate individual personal hygiene practices among staff, coaches and all participants at home (away from training) and during training.


Equipment Cleaning: Dryland surfaces frequently touched with hands are most likely to be contaminated however Coronaviruses are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product when used according to the label directions.


Individual Health Monitoring: Daily individual health monitoring processes and tracking need to be in place. Monitoring will be under the responsibility of participants (or parents if under 18 years old) and monitoring will be under Clubs/program responsibility. Individuals should not return to sport if they have been unwell (even mild symptoms), have had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or have travelled outside the country in the past 14 days. Staff or athletes at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are recommended to review their specific health concerns with their primary care provider prior to attending training sessions.


Safe Sport Environment: In these unique times, our commitment to providing a safe sport environment for all participants cannot waver. A return to sport program must be designed to ensure all aspects of a safe sport environment can be implemented and followed.


Planning and Communication: A robust return to training plan that includes regular communication and education with key stakeholders including athletes, coaches and others, is key for any club.


Finally, our four Aquatics National Sport Organizations would like to thank Dr. Suzanne Leclerc, CMO of the Institut national du sport du Québec, who has collaborated closely with us to produce this document.

Overarching Health, Medical and Safety Information and Considerations:


Water Polo Canada wants to thank Swimming Canada Natation for giving us permission to use and adapt this section's content.

General info about COVID-19 and Aquatics


COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus mostly found in animals, but when humans become infected, symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on a number of variables.  The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Tragic consequences of this virus are being experienced around the world, including within Canada.  There are many ongoing challenges for all of us to manage, and for our Canadian aquatics community, a safe and responsible return to sport is paramount.  The intent of the following information is not to provide permission to return to sport, but rather to supply the reader with a guide to current medical recommendations in an attempt to mitigate risks related to COVID-19.  The goal is to avoid becoming infected, and spreading to other people in the community.  This document is meant to complement not replace local public health and recreation facility advice.


COVID-19 has a fragile lipid outer membrane, and is therefore highly susceptible to soaps and oxidants, such as chlorine. According to the Centre for Disease Control, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools, hot tubs or spas. Proper operation maintenance, disinfection with chlorine or bromine of pools should inactivate the virus (CDC 2020). A related coronavirus which caused the SARS epidemic in 2003, was found to be inactivated by UV treatment and disinfectors.


The following health, medical, and safety information are considered to be applicable to all Steps of the Return to Aquatics Framework until such time that public health information and guidelines change.  In addition, this information is generally applicable to all training environments including indoor pools, outdoor pools, open water, gym and outdoor land training.  Provincial and Municipal Public Health information and guidelines must be respected at all times and supersede the information below.


Health Monitoring


  • Members who are sick or symptomatic must not enter/participate. Participants, spectators and volunteers should use the Government of Ontario’s online self-assessment tool to help determine if the illness may be COVID-19. The tool provides people with next steps depending on

their responses.

  • Athletes, coaches, and staff must answer ‘NO’ to all the following questions prior to attending any training session:
    • Do I have any of the symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, difficult breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, abnormal muscle pain, headache, sore throat, painful swallowing, runny nose, new loss of taste or smell, gastrointestinal illness?
    • Have I been in contact with or cared for someone with COVID-19?
    • Have I returned from a trip outside the country within the last 2 weeks? If so, are you required to quarantine?
    • Stay home when sick, even with mild symptoms
  • If a person becomes sick, they should immediately stop participating and return home.
  • Any athlete or staff member that is required to leave a training session as a consequence of experiencing signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 is required to contact their physician to consider the appropriateness of further investigations. Further investigations may include a test for COVID-19, which then may lead to the notification of appropriate public health officials regarding a positive test result. Public health officials will determine any requirements related to facility and/or group operations, as well as any requirements around contact tracing as it relates to managing the spread of the virus. The athlete or staff member may not return until receiving clearance from the physician, and if a test for COVID-19 was completed, a negative test result will be required before further training is permitted. If home isolation is required, guidelines have been provided in a subsequent section below.
  • Staff or athletes at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are recommended to review their specific health concerns with their primary care provider prior to attending training sessions.
    • Common underlying health conditions which may place an individual at higher risk would include hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and those who are otherwise immunocompromised.  


Returning to Training following a positive COVID-19 test


The decision on when it is appropriate to return to training following a positive COVID-19 test will require medical advice and clearance by the attending physician and in accordance with Provincial guidelines. Recommendations will vary based on a number of factors and may include further testing in some cases. Please seek the advice of your health care practitioner.




Home Isolation Recommendations


If you find yourself ill with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19,

  • Remain at home except to get urgent medical care.
  • Do not go to work, school, pool or other public places.
  • Cancel non urgent appointments.
  • Do not use public transport.
  • Notify your doctor or local health department by phone, as testing may be required.
  • Monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if you are having difficulty breathing, are unable to drink fluids, or if your illness is significantly worsening.
  • Wear a face masks when around others, particularly when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Separate from household members, at least 2 meters at all times.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Stay in a well ventilated room (open windows) and use your own bathroom if possible.
  • Sanitize common use surfaces frequently.
  • If close contacts are vulnerable in terms of their health, consider alternative accommodations.
  • Avoid sharing household items.
  • Maintain excellent hand hygiene.
  • Follow any other local health regulations


For those individuals who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, upon contact with a positive COVID-19 case, those individuals will NOT be required to quarantine for two weeks OR get tested. This guideline has been put in place by the PHO and Government of Ontario for its residents who have been fully vaccinated; full vaccination is defined as two weeks after the second dose of vaccine.


Physical Distancing

As of June 29, 2021, PHO recommendation for physical distancing are:


  • Avoid being exposed to COVID-19 by physical distancing (minimum 2 meters). Keep a safe distance at all times. This is critical as COVD-19 can be spread prior to symptom onset.
  • Avoid crowded places.
  • Avoid greetings with handshakes, hugging, high fives, etc.
  • Athletes and staff must respect a 2m physical distancing when not in the water.
  • Try to minimize cheering and whistling as much as possible to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • Protective Masks might be made mandatory by your facility, city or by Ontario Health Authority. Clubs/programs and participants must comply when implemented.
  • Provide facility access with one entry point and a separate exit point.
    • If both entry and exit points are located at the same place, put in place measures that provide physical distancing of at least 2 meters.
    • Install signage to direct athletes, coaches, and staff to enter one at a time.
    • Provide floor markings to guide athletes, coaches, and staff movements through and out of the facility.
  • Install physical markers on the floor or walls (cones, lines, stickers, wooden structures, etc.) that indicate appropriate two meters spacing distances for athletes, coaches, and staff working on deck or in dryland areas.
  • Coaches and staff must maintain appropriate distance from each other and facility staff members throughout the entire duration of time spent in the facility.
  • Where possible, participants should supply their own equipment. Bring extra suits, swim caps, and/or goggles to training sessions.
  • Washrooms may be open, but increased cleaning and disinfection must take place. Handwashing facilities (soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada) must be provided.
  • Locker rooms must be closed. Athletes should arrive in their training suit and footwear can be changed in the parking lot.
  • Showers should be mandatory only if a shower is available near the pool deck (without the need to enter the changing room).
    • Athletes should encourage good pool hygiene by showering at home before and after a session.
  • To maintain physical distancing of 2 meters the number of athletes must be modified depending on the activities programmed in the aquatic facility.
  • Keep the same group of athletes for each training session
    • High Performance Centre and Senior Team athletes may relocate from within Canada to train with a resident group upon review and approval from the National Sport Federation National Team Physician and in line with provincial and municipal travel regulations.
    • Other athletes looking to relocate to train with a resident group (e.g. University Team) must follow all provincial and municipal regulations related to travel along with any Provincial Section guidelines that may be in place.
    • Athletes should only participate in one training group and should not move between multiple training groups.
    • The gathering size per training session must adhere to the Government of Ontario and its Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation at that specified time. Please refer to the Government of Ontario’s website for the most recent recommended gathering size.
  • Do not perform dry land training at the pool. Any dryland or pre-pool should be performed before entering the facility.
  • Do not arrive any earlier than necessary for receiving the training session and entering the pool.
  • At this time, physical therapy treatments (which includes hands-on services provided by massage therapists physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists and strength and conditioning practitioners) are higher risk and such support services are not recommended. Other virtual and non-contact means of providing feedback and therapy advice should be considered as alternatives to physical treatment.
  • Request minimal spectator attendance at events, and physical distancing must be maintained. Spectators must adhere to all facility rules.
  • Athletes are encouraged to act responsibly and promote appropriate behavior on social media with their peers.





Hand and Personal Hygiene


  • Clean/wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer (>60% alcohol). Coaches and athletes are encouraged to carry a personal supply of hand sanitizer for use as needed before, during and after training.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • On arrival and departure of the facility, athletes, coaches, and staff must wash their hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow when you sneeze or cough.
  • All frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected prior to a new group being provided access to the pool deck, including benches, bleachers, railings, door handles, etc.
  • Do not share food and drinks.


Use of Equipment


  • Clean equipment thoroughly with a disinfectant pre and post training session. Remember that COVID-19 can last between two hours and nine days on surfaces depending on a number of factors. Simple cleaning measures can inactivate the virus.
  • Personal items and clothing (backpacks, jackets, shoes, etc.) brought in by athletes, coaches, and staff should be kept to a minimum. Where bags must be brought in, they should be stored separately, with adequate space between each member’s items (re: backpacks left 2 meters apart along pool deck).
  • Limit the amount of equipment to be brought into the pool throughout the return to sport process. The coach is required to communicate necessary training equipment prior to each session.
  • There is no permitted sharing of water bottles. Athletes, coaches, and staff are required to fill their personal water bottles at home, prior to a leaving for the facility.
  • Sharing beverage containers and other similar behaviours increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission and are not permitted. Participants must bring their own water bottles and not share with other participants.
  • Close drinking fountains. Water bottle filling stations are acceptable if appropriately and frequently sanitized.
  • Coaches are discouraged from using whiteboards so that athletes do not congregate around them. Use other means of communicating the training sessions to the players
  • Coaches are discouraged from sharing hand-held equipment such as clipboards or pens, with colleagues or others. Reminder to clean this equipment with disinfecting wipes pre and post training session.
  • In general, pool set-up such as putting in lane lines and nets should be left to the facility to complete. Where this is not possible, specific protocols should be developed to perform the task safely.


Safe Sport                              


  • All efforts should be made to ensure that Open and Observable environments are maintained at all times. Open and observable environments means making meaningful and concerted efforts to avoid situations where a coach, official or other representative might be alone with an athlete and/or vulnerable individual. All interactions between an athlete and an individual who is in a position of trust should normally, and wherever possible, be in an environment or space that is both “open” and “observable” to others.
  • All training sessions shall respect the principles outlined in the Coaching Association of Canada’s Responsible Coaching Movement including the Rule of Two.


Return to Sport - Water Polo Training Guidelines












Ontario Public Health

60% adults with one dose

70% adults with one dose

70-80% adults with one dose


Date in Effect

June 11th, 2021

June 30th, 2021



Training Locations

Available outdoor spaces

Available outdoor spaces

Available indoor/ outdoor spaces

All Available Spaces

In Water Physical Distancing Recommendation

2 metres

2 metres

Resume Regular Sport

(No physical distancing required when allowed by your facility/ city)


Mask Wearing Outside of the Water


Protective masks must be work outside of the water when mandatory by your facility/ city/ Ontario Public Health

Protective masks must be worn outside of the water when mandatory by your facility/ city/ Ontario Public Health


Training Capacity*

Up to 24 athletes per 25 metres x 6 lanes

Up to 24 athletes per 25 metres x 6 lanes

Up to 30 athletes per 25 metres x 6 lanes

Facility based restrictions

Scrimmages/ Games

Not permitted

Not permitted



Please note that the above are recommendations from Ontario Water Polo. They are subject to revision at any point in time, and do NOT supersede your facility rules. It is the responsibility of the club to adapt all their training to remain within the recommended guidelines above AND to adapt to the requirements of the facility. If your facility requires approval from OWP for your return to training plans, please send in your request to 





Public Health

Public Health guidelines must be followed at all times.

Arrival Procedures

All participants should consider wearing masks outside of the pool during transit to and from the facility while ensuring they wash their hands or use hand sanitizer for 20 seconds upon arrival at the facilities. Protective mask must be worn when mandatory by your facility, city and/or PHO at any time except while in the water.

Work creatively with facility managers to create an entry and exit plan that maintains 2m physical distancing outside the water and minimizes transition time.

Athletes or staff with symptoms or roommates with symptoms should not be permitted to attend training until cleared by a doctor.

Sanitation Procedures

Participants will wipe down equipment after use

Offices or

Shared Spaces

Staff will wash hands before entering office and wipe down after its use. 

No sharing of office supplies. 

Limit number of people within the office depending on size and respecting 2m distancing.

Team Meetings

Team meetings should be held by Zoom (or similar platform) or in open space that allows for physical distancing


Participants in the pool

Based on the ongoing lifting of restrictions across the country at different rates Water Polo Canada asked Province Sport Organizations to consider the following (written June 2020- no revision additional guidelines have been made in the last year)

“Provincial Sport Organizations and Clubs are encouraged to work closely with their facility managers and Public Health Officials to determine the maximum number of athletes that can participate in a training session as this varies widely across the country and the 3 meters physical distancing rule is no longer universal. In order to accomplish this a detailed de-confinement plan should be provided to facilities, and to Public Health Officials if required, to demonstrate how the club or team will comply with the current COVID-19 protocols in place in their city and/or province.”

Respect all recommendations provided by your provincial & municipal health authorities, as well as the guidelines outlined by your local public training facilities. The number of participants allowed will be determined by the available pool space in each facility and adaptations will be given by the training facility in use.

*Note the recommendations above are based on the pool space available, Cities or facility management might add additional restrictions that clubs MUST follow and comply with.

Personal Bins

on Pool Deck


All sport related equipment should be sanitized and left at the pool, athletes can be given their own personal bin or box on the pool deck for sport related equipment such as bathing caps, goggles, WP hats, etc.

Change area &

Athletes can arrive in their training suit and be given a bin on deck to put their clothes, or they can pass through the locker room in a staggered fashion while respecting 2m physical distancing and arrive on the pool deck with a towel only. Protective mask must be worn when mandatory by your facility, city and/or SHA.

Interactions between Team Members

2m physical distancing must be maintained at all times. The distance between each individual will be determined and should be followed based on you provincial & municipal health authorities, as well as the guidelines set by the public training facility. 1. Protective mask must be worn when mandatory by your facility, city and/or PHO.

Warm up

Limit dry land training on the pool deck. Any dryland or pre-pool activities should be performed before entering the facility.

Options of completing warm up can be done outdoors in open air or in another location if permitted.


Only water personal water bottles on deck, no food allowed.


Sanitation measures after use by each person - facility specific rules should apply

Swim training

Can be conducted using every second lane, can be subgroups or rotating groups in the water with swimming/static technical work. Avoid congregating on the wall and minimize athletes crossing one another.

Individual ball or technical skills

Maintain the recommended distance between persons as recommended by the provincial & Municipal health authorities, and the public training facility for drills. 

Passing & Shooting

Shooting open net, on a board, on rebounded, passing with partners or subgroups, and shooting on goalie

Duels/ opposition - close contact work

Not permitted until Step 3 of reopening

Close contact situational activities, or scrimmages

Cool Down

Can be completed in the pool as long as distancing guidelines are followed.

Post Training Meetings

Team meetings should be held virtually or in open space that allows for physical distancing



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