Local coach's creative solution keeps swimmers safe, in the pool

Posted at 9:22 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 22:22:17-04

COVID-19 has forced many athletes and coaches to change the way they train.

A legendary swim coach in the area has created an electronic headset that also happens to double as personal protective equipment.

Coach Bill Barton and his team were unable to practice for six weeks due to the novel coronavirus. During that time, he reached out to a company he’s worked with in the past to create electronic headsets so he could continue coaching during the pandemic.

"I started social distancing my team as far as the water goes," he said.

The headsets are called "i-Coach:" You put it on behind your head, then place your swim cap and snorkel on, and then it’s time to swim.

"The first time, I was kind of nervous to see if they were going to work or not, but they actually work like really, really well, and I was not expecting it," said swimmer Jenna Pickens.

The coaches use transmitters that have seven channels which can handle 20-30 kids on each channel.

“The headsets are good for about 15 feet under water and 200 meters long,” Barton said. “(The swimmers) can hear me underwater.”

"Instead of just having the mask in the water, which we couldn’t use, we put snorkels in,” Barton said. “And we got this -- not a face mask, but some way to mask out the breath that we expel.”

"The headsets provide him safety, but also provide a better training environment for us," said swimmer Marcus Hernandez.’

Barton said that none of the swimmers been diagnosed with coronavirus since he began using the electronic headsets at practice.

And the price tag for Barton?

"For me?” he said. “I couldn’t put a price tag on it.”