Aquatic center in American Canyon wins award for COVID-19 response

Jun 9, 2021

As vaccination rates increase, families are anxious to get back to routine summer activities. This presents a challenge for cities, which must balance the needs of their residents with public safety. The Phillip West Aquatics Center in American Canyon received international recognition for its COVID-19 response and is offering popular — and safe — programs this summer.

One public institution — the Phillip West Aquatics Center in American Canyon — recently received international recognition for its response to COVID-19. The center is safely offering many hallmark programs this summer, including water aerobics, lap swimming, and its learn to swim program.

The city’s aquatic center was named “2020 Best of Aquatics” by Aquatics International Magazine for its quick response to the pandemic and its first-in-the-nation COVID-19 compliant lifeguard training. According to an article in Aquatics International, “In developing the COVID reopening plan for Phillip West Aquatics Center, the team at the City of American Canyon had to meet two goals: establish guidelines to keep everybody safe, and run a program that paid for itself through user fees.”

After a four-month closure last year, the aquatic center reopened on June 15, 2020, and has remained open, offering most of the previous programming with facility, layout, and capacity modifications. Aquatics staff developed extensive pool operations guidelines, trained lifeguards on sanitation protocols, and held a blended-instruction lifeguard training class.

Crucially, a three-phase reopening plan helped staff navigate the changes and ensured that pool users could safely access the aquatic facilities. The first phase included naturally-socially distanced activities such as lap swimming, followed by second and third phase that included programs with greater capacities. The center expects to operate at 75% of normal capacity this summer and will see the return of the open recreation swim and junior lifeguarding.

“Last year, our team was extremely creative, and we worked to find ways to ensure that residents could still access the pool in a safe way,” said American Canyon Parks and Recreation Department Aquatics Supervisor Joedy Michael. “Since instructors had to learn how to teach from the deck, we provided child development training for our lifeguards so they could learn how to teach parents to work with their children in the pool.”

The aquatic center says it continues to follow local and state guidelines for COVID-19. Staff say they are excited to feel some sense of normalcy as they offer more activities and programs for swimmers of all ages and abilities.
“It really is a testament to our hard-working staff that the city’s aquatic center was recognized for being able to quickly and effectively adapt to very challenging circumstances,” said American Canyon Mayor Leon Garcia. “Outdoor recreation is so important for both our physical and mental health and I’m thrilled that our city continues to offer top-notch aquatic programs for our residents.”