GRAB AND GO - Library patron Tina Johnson, left, and Joanna Perensovich, information services librarian, wear masks in the Sitka Library this afternoon. The library no longer has couches for patrons, but does have computer desks widely spaced apart for people to access for one-hour periods. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Barracudas Back in Water after Hiatus

Sentinel Staff Writer
    After months on dry land, the Baranof Barracudas have returned to the pool, but challenges remain, coach Kevin Knox says.
    “We are back in the water in limited numbers. We’re keeping each practice to about 12 swimmers,” Knox said.
    Prior to the spread of COVID-19, a standard Barracudas practice would have involved about 30 swimmers in a six-lane pool. The Barracudas’ first day back in the water at Blatchley pool was Monday. The ongoing pandemic had forced the team to stay away from the pool for about three months.

The Barracudas practice Tuesday. (Photo provided by Kevin Knox)

    The current arrangement allows for two swimmers per lane, one starting in the deep end and the other in the shallow end, Knox said. This means that the two come close to each other only at the center of the pool.
    Knox conceded how difficult it is to maintain a safe, six-foot distance between people swimming in a lane that’s six feet wide.
    “The exposure risk is there but we are mitigating it as best we can,” Knox said. “But we obviously can’t be six feet apart when you’re in a six-foot lane.”
    But the Barracudas do their best to stay apart and keep items clean where possible.
    “We try to maintain distancing when they come into the building,” Knox said. “We have a rotational flow on the pool deck, we’re always walking clockwise. I sanitize all the gear between sessions.”
    Knox noted that in the water itself, chlorine kills the virus quickly.
    “The CDC looked at how COVID reacts to chlorine and normal chlorine levels in the pool, the contact time is really short,” he said.
    Knox added that while the state allows the pool to reach full capacity again, he doesn’t want to do that.
    “One of the things that they (the state) look at is the capacity of the pool, and Blatchley has an 80-person capacity. For a little while, when the state first came out with guidelines, they said 50 percent capacity, and I think now they’re saying 100 percent. But we don’t want to have that many people in the water,” Knox said.
    He added that even without the virus, coaching staff would not be able to safely manage a full pool. With only a dozen swimming at once, Knox is the only coach still on the swim club’s payroll.
    For the moment, the low turnout has compounded another problem. What about income?
    Knox said that BBSC raises about $40,000 annually from community events, from the Open Water Swim to the Julie Hughes Triathlon. The pandemic has cut that figure in half. Club dues also provide a significant sum of revenue, but those have fallen too.
    “From a financial standpoint, organizational fiscal health is going to be really tough. We will either have to look at ways of increasing our dues or our fundraising capacity, which has been really impacted by all of this as well,” Knox said.
    Some individuals have chosen not to return to the pool on their own.
    “People made their own decisions on whether or not they wanted to come back,” Knox said.
    In addition to swimmers being reluctant to return, larger events have been canceled.
    Last month’s Julie Hughes Triathlon was informal and free to participate in, another result of virus worries.
    Knox added that the Open Water Swim, scheduled for August, is called off, too.
    “I don’t know where things are going as far as numbers, but the prospect of bringing a bunch of people from out of town… I don’t feel entirely comfortable with that.”
    He noted that in a typical year, more than half of the roughly 50 to 60 participants come from out of town.
    While the Barracudas face difficulties due to the pandemic, Knox said, the swimmers were happy to be back in the pool.
    “In all the sessions, everybody was pretty exhausted. There is no other substitute for exercise than swimming, so with them coming back in the water they were pretty exhausted but they were smiling,” he said.

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-10-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of noon Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 51

Total statewide – 1,323

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 5 (2 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 13 (11 resident; 2 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 80.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

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The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

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Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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