Swim England publishes guidelines to help pools return to ‘new normal’

Swimmers could be required to arrive at pools having booked in advance and dressed ready to swim as part of Swim England’s new guidelines for the potential re-opening of swimming pools in July.

The national governing body for swimming has released five detailed documents as part of their new ‘Returning to Pools Guidance’, which is based on the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines.

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

Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, said swimmers and pool operators will need to work together to get back to the water safely. “When pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different.

“However, if we are to play our part in protecting the NHS from another wave of Covid-19 admissions, it is important we follow the latest guidance and adjust to the new ‘normal’.”

Speaking on when pools are likely to be allowed to re-open, she said: “We will continue to lobby the government for a re-opening date, but ultimately, we have to be guided by them on this.

“If the government guidance on social distancing and other measures changes before pools open, we will do our best to update the guidance as this happens.”

The earliest date currently that pools could be able to re-open is 4 July – when the Government plans to move England into Stage 3 of its easing of lockdown measures.

What will lane swimming look like when pools 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.

Full guidance can be found on the Swim England website.

Will I be able to swim with my club?

Swim England has advised 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.

To adhere to the government’s rules on social distancing, Swim England have recommended that clubs consider double length lanes and that teachers and coaches deliver from poolside.

They also suggest that equipment should be cleaned in-between use and submerged in disinfected swimming pool water. Where possible, swimmers should bring their own, identifiable, equipment.

For Swim England’s full guidance for pool users and clubs, as well as for community swimming and instructors, operators and swimming lessons, visit their website.

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