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Swim England express ‘dismay and frustration’ at decision to keep pools closed

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has expressed her ‘dismay and frustration’ at the Government’s “appalling” decision to postpone the re-opening of swimming pools.

It was originally hoped that pools would be able to re-open from July 4 as part of the Government’s easing of lockdown measures.

Pubs, restaurants, hair salons, theatres and other parts of the hospitality sector have been given the go-ahead to re-open, yet the Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs in Parliament on 23 June that pools and leisure centres would be required to stay closed “for now”.

In response, Swim England has launched an #OpenOurPools campaign calling for the decision to be reconsidered immediately.

“I cannot emphasise this strongly enough,” Jane Nickerson wrote to PM Boris Johnson on twitter. “The sector is ready for controlled openings to get our nation fit and healthy in pools and gyms […] Is it easier to manage social distancing in clean, chlorinated pools with ticketed, controlled access with disciplined people, or groups of imbibing alcohol in pubs.”

This comes after Swim England published five detailed documents as part of their new ‘Returning to Pools Guidance’, to help the aquatic sector when it is allowed to re-open.

The guidance outlines recommendations for pool users, clubs, operators, instructors and swimming lessons, and has been released ahead of the easing of lockdown measures for pools in England in hope of convincing the Government that the aquatic sector is fully prepared to re-open.

As part of Swim England’s new guidance, it is recommended that swimmers check their pool’s website for timetables, user guidance and booking instructions before they travel.

Swimmers could be asked to arrive at pools ‘ready to swim’, to shower at home pre and post swimming, and once having finished swimming, to leave the venue as soon as they can, so that as little time as possible is spent in changing rooms.

In the pool, there will be double-width lanes allocated to swimmers dependent on speed – fast, medium and slow.

Swimmers will be not be allowed to overtake whilst swimming and are asked to respect people of different standards and abilities, and their right to enjoy their swim. Swimmers will also be encouraged, before pushing off at each turn, to check to see if anyone faster is approaching and to allow them to pass.

The guidance also recommends that swimmers take hand sanitiser with them, that any swimming equipment/ aids are clean and made identifiable as theirs before they arrive.

Rest areas outside the pool will be set out to avoid gatherings between lengths and two-metre social distancing will be enforced throughout changing areas.

It also advises that when pools re-open, clubs should have a dedicated officer responsible for Covid-19 liaison to ensure clubs are up to date with the latest government recommendations.

Full guidance can be found on the Swim England website.

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