Swim England has unveiled a four-point plan to ensure all its disciplines, clubs, members and workforce are ready to return to action when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted. While the country remains in lockdown in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19, preparations are being put in place by the recognised national governing body for when pools are open again and events can be held. In a new podcast produced by Anything But Footy, which can be downloaded now, the main elements of the strategy are revealed.
The key objectives focus on:
Clubs and a club structure able to restart and sustain in a different environment
A workforce (paid and voluntary) in place ready to deliver
Engaged participants wanting to come back
An events structure to come back to.
George Wood, Swim England Sport Development Director, told the podcast: “Our mission is to make sure our sports are ready to go when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted and that means four key things. “Firstly, clubs and a clubs structure that are able to restart and sustain in a different environment. A workforce, both our paid and voluntary workforce, that are in place and ready to deliver again as they are crucial to all of our sports. We need to have engaged participants who want to come back to the sport and finally an events structure that they can come back into and take part in. Those are our four key areas of work – clubs, workforce, participants and events.”
George goes into further detail on the work Swim England is carrying out to help clubs in terms of funding and governance, the education and training of the workforce, how participants and coaches are kept activated and motivated and how the events task force are effectively planning a structured return to competition.
He added: “We understand that it’s an incredibly tough time for everyone. For a lot of people involved in our clubs, they will have other worries and concerns going on over and above swimming and our aquatic sports. We really get that but, at the same time, we want to make sure that we have a great sport ready to come back to. Clearly there is going to have to be some compromise, clearly there is going to be some challenges with it but working together we can make sure we get all of our great aquatic sports back in a place where we are ready to go – and ready to get a load of athletes in the water and enjoying themselves again.”
The podcast also features interviews with Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson and Head of Talent Swimming Grant Robins. Jane said: “The overall message to all our members and all our partners and everyone we work with is stay home, stay safe and let’s get through this as quickly as we can. Let the key workers do their job and then we will be back in the pool doing all the things we love sooner rather than later. We are absolutely there for all our members. We’ll facilitate everything we can. We want to keep our whole swimming family together, working as one team in this and come out fitter and stronger than ever before.” Grant added: “It’s a great sport and we are missing it terribly and I’m sure that’s not as much as our actual participants because that’s what they do on a daily basis. We are there to try and keep people fit and healthy and ready to go when we can.”
Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has welcomed a new package to help clubs that are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sport England has announced £195 million is being made available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the current crisis. It includes a £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which will be opened immediately for clubs and community organisations to bid for grants of between £300 and £10,000.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “We’re well aware of the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on some of our clubs across the country. It’s fantastic to see Sport England launch this Community Emergency Fund to help clubs across all sports that are struggling the most in this difficult time. We’d encourage our swimming clubs to carefully look at this criteria and see if this financial package can assist those of you most in need through this crisis. These are worrying times for our clubs but we will get through this unprecedented situation and I’d like to thank Sport England for delivering this financial support. There are also plenty of other government funding sources that could be a huge help to our clubs as well and we’d urge them to investigate if these are a viable option. We are also exploring other opportunities to support swimming clubs financially and hope to announce further details in the near future.”
As well as the Community Emergency Fund, Sport England has also announced:
A £5 million pot for existing partners to bid into if they’re facing specific financial difficulty
An additional £55 million to support the sport and physical activity sector during the ongoing period of restrictions, to fund new and innovative ways to keep people active
And £115 million rollover of current funding into 2021-22 to give long-term certainty to more than 100 well-established partners who play a vital role in the delivery of sport and physical activity in England.
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England chief executive, said he “hoped the package would help the sector get through these extremely challenging times. Sporting events are being cancelled, gyms and leisure centres are closed, clubs and community groups are not operating, and children and young people are all at home. This is impacting the sector financially in a significant way, although it is heartening to see huge amounts of innovation and agility, with many operators getting classes online in a matter of days to enable home workouts for example. As the body responsible for the growth of sport and physical activity at a grassroots level, we have an important role to play both in ensuring that we support those with short-term cashflow concerns and immediate loss of income, as well as those facing medium and long-term survival challenges and financial difficulties. We want the sector not just to come through this crisis but to be in a position to thrive again in the future and this package will ease the pressure on a huge number of the organisations who are central to that.”
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, said everything is being done to support the sport sector and keep Britain active through these challenging times. “This multi-million-pound package of public funding will not only help local sports clubs facing financial concerns but also encourage people to stay fit at home. When it is safe to do so, we want our brilliant community sport organisations to bounce back and we will work alongside Sport England and others to make that happen.”
Swim England coronavirus guidance is being regularly updated to reflect the latest advice from gov.uk, World Health Organisation (WHO), and Public Health England (PHE) and government guidelines are being followed. Government advice as to the risk of coronavirus, which has been raised to HIGH in the UK. This allows the government to plan for all eventualities. Swim England is monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact, and doing all it can to make safe and reassure customers and workforce.
Click or tap one of the topics below to head straight to those FAQs. Then click or tap the panels to reveal the answer to each question.
We can confirm our latest plans to deal with the challenges presented by Coronavirus (COVID-19), which includes arrangements for moving courses online where possible, and a move to staff working from home. Longer-term plans are being developed.
In all our planning we have been guided by two principles – firstly the need to minimise the impact and risk to our staff, clubs, lesson providers and learners, and secondly the requirement to sustain essential operations while minimising the need for staff to travel.
This is clearly a concerning time for our community and beyond. We are in regular contact with staff to offer advice and support and ask everyone to check for new information on this FAQ site.
We will continue to evolve our plans as the situation changes. We’re ensuring that as we develop these plans, we are doing everything possible to support customers and staff and we will continue to communicate and support to the best of our ability during this period of significant national disruption.
Mind has produced some useful guidance surrounding COVID-19 and well-being.
For information concerning the Institute of Swimming visit their website at swimming.org/ios.
Questions for clubs
The health and well-being of everyone is our primary focus. This is a fast-changing situation and we will update the guidance when necessary. A number of members have expressed concern that we originally advised clubs to continue training as schools were open and have now changed that advice. The change followed the stronger advice from Government to avoid non-essential activities, take on greater social responsibility and ensure social distancing.
Having further reviewed the latest guidance, it is Swim England’s interpretation that club activity falls into the ‘public gathering’ category and therefore we strongly advise clubs to consider cancelling or postponing activity – including events. All competitions organised by the national governing body that are scheduled to be held between now and the end of May have been called off.
Yes, all activity would include club training.
Yes, insurance will still be valid unless Swim England (the National Governing Body) state that you cannot continue, or there is a change in Government guidance banning the activity. Clubs need to prepare a risk assessment and risk management plan. Clubs must consider the latest Government advice that has been released and keep up-to-date with any changes in the Government’s position. All clubs should record their decisions, whether they are proceeding or not.
Swim England’s affiliated clubs could find themselves at risk of not being correctly insured if the national governing body had ordered them to stop activities and they had then continued. However, if clubs were advised of the latest guidance and then carried out appropriate risk assessments on whether it was still safe to take part in aquatic activities, they would still be covered. You can read our full statement on this issue on our news pages.
We will continue to keep clubs informed via our website FAQs and social media channels as the situation evolves. Our Club Development Officers and all of Swim England staff are working, and remain contactable for direct support. We will be communicating directly with clubs to better understand the challenges being faced and how we can best shape our support (see next FAQ below). We are also in regular discussion with Sport England, on how we protect community sports clubs. As the government position on Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve we will start to gather more answers. Swim England want to be able to protect our membership, our clubs and our sports and coaches are an integral part of that.
We are very keen to support our clubs and to make it clear to our funders, the Government and partners as to the impact of the current situation. It’s emerging so fast that no-one has all of the answers; however, we are committed to understanding the situation so that we can respond in the most effective way to ensure the long-term health of our sport. To that end, there are two things that you can do to support this.
how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is affecting your club
the type of support that you would find most beneficial.
We will use this information to further develop these FAQs. We cannot guarantee to be able to resolve all of the issues, but the more information we have, the better we can shape our services and lobby the Government, influence our funders and work with our partners to find solutions.
Clubs must check the contracts they have in place with their coaching staff. We would encourage where possible an agreement to be made around payment with coaches during this difficult time. In doing so clubs should consider how best to maintain finances in conjunction with any changes of expenditure. Swim England is supporting lobbying efforts to encourage the government to provide support for self-employed individuals affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19).
There may be some cover on a case-by-case basis. Clubs need to contact Howdens T: 0121 698 8000. Swim England continues to lobby the government alongside partners from the sporting sector to press for additional support. Do also keep checking the government website for details of the support available.
Due to the unprecedented times we currently find ourselves in, we appreciate you have questions in relation to your insurance cover. We have asked our Insurance partner Howden to provide further clarity and guidance which we will share with you as soon as possible
This will be down to each club’s individual financial circumstances. If there is still expenditure to cover then this needs to be communicated to members/parents and a reduced fee applied if appropriate. Regular communication is key.
Every club and facility will have a different relationship, so it ultimately depends on the contract the club has with the provider. We would encourage clubs to have discussions with their facility providers and check the terms and conditions of the hire agreement that they have.
Swim England is having regular conversations with pool operators on the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to all pool users, including our clubs.
Swim England has cancelled a number of events due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The decision has been taken following the Government’s announcement to implement increased social distancing, avoid crowds gathering and carrying out any unnecessary travel. All competitions organised by Swim England, the National Governing Body that were scheduled to be held between now and the end of May have been called off. Read more about this on our news pages.
Working on the assumption that it is viable for the 2020 British Summer Championships and 2020 Home Nation Summer Meets to take place, we will be inviting athletes on the basis of retrospective long-course performances achieved in the period 1 July 2019 to 12 March 2020. No performance after this date will be considered. This is the case even if some meets start to take place in May. For para-swimmers, the qualification process will remain the same. For more information visit our news story about the Summer Meet qualification window.
Questions relating to the Institute of Swimming training
The majority of teams will be working remotely during this period and will be available to contact through the usual channels. We will continue to keep our networks updated.
Due to the unprecedented times we currently find ourselves in, we appreciate you have questions in relation to your insurance cover. We have asked our Insurance partner Howden to provide further clarity and guidance which we will share with you as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the loss of income cover is only applicable to pool closures and the personal accident cover is for accidents sustained when working, not illnesses. As the situation is changing rapidly, keep up to date with government guidance and if your pool closes then you can contact Howden on 0121 698 8040. They will review the reason for the pool closure and request any relevant information needed to consider a claim. Due to office closures, Howden staff are currently working from home. They are still taking calls but you may need to leave a message and they will call you back. Find contact details for Howden on their website. Do also keep checking the government website for details of the support available.
We are reviewing our courses and the Government’s guidance every day and are aiming to give everyone at least seven days’ notice if we have to postpone the face-to-face elements of their course. It is really important to us that anyone in this situation has the opportunity to start their training. To enable this we are offering online training to those booked on a course that has a blended learning option available. This will give customers the opportunity to work through the theoretical elements of their course online at home, at their own pace, over the coming weeks and months. Customers will then be able to choose a face to face or blended learning course in the future to complete the rest of their training and qualification. Find out more about changes on the Institute of Swimming website.
Training and qualifications questions
Where regional Swim England teams are delivering courses, delegates will be contacted directly. We will look to move those sessions online wherever possible. We are aware that there are a small number of Approved Training Centres who are moving the theoretical elements of their courses online – and planning to deliver the poolside elements in the future. Our advice is for learners to contact their Approved Training Centre directly, through the normal channels.
We will be moving some upcoming CPD courses with no pool-based activities to webinars, so teachers can continue their personal development. A webinar is an interactive online seminar that is led by the tutor and allows participants in different locations to be guided through the course content, hear the presenter, ask questions and be involved in group text discussions. We are aiming to give everyone at least seven days’ notice if their CPD is moving online. We will also be creating additional webinars over the coming weeks, so teachers are able to keep engaged with the swimming community during a time where we may face isolation and separation. The 2020 Teaching and Education Conference and Awards event has been postponed from 30 November until spring 2021. Details to be confirmed later this year. Any nominations received for the Awards up to now will be stored and included in our shortlisting process.
Questions for swimming teachers, swim schools and pool operators
In recognition of the likely impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Budget introduced temporary 100% business rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – including gyms and sports clubs – for 2020/21 for businesses with certain rateable values. In addition, the Budget provided that organisations eligible for Small Business Rate Relief would receive a £3,000 grant.
The Chancellor’s speech on 17 March extended this temporary 100% business rates relief to all businesses in these sectors, regardless of their rateable value. This means all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive 100% business rates relief for 2020/21. In addition to rates relief, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be provided with a grant of £25,000.
Small businesses eligible for Small Businesses Rates Relief or Rural Relief will be provided with a one-off grant of £10,000. Businesses eligible for the grant will be contacted by their local authority, funding is due to be provided to local authorities in early April. At present we are seeking clarification on whether Community Amateur Sports Clubs and charities are eligible for this support and we will provide a further update when we know more.
Swim England, in partnership with other bodies in the sport and leisure sector, is pressing the government for more financial support for self-employed individuals working in the sector who will be impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19). You can keep up-to-date with Government updates for employers and businesses on the UK Government website.
Swim schools should also make an informed decision on future lessons based on the current information from the Government and keep up-to-date with the guidance on our news pages.
This is a fluid situation, parents should check with their local facility and follow government guidance at all times.
The chief executive of Swim England has clarified why clubs and swim schools have only been advised to cancel activities during the coronavirus outbreak rather than being told to stop.
Jane Nickerson said Swim England’s affiliated clubs could find themselves at risk of not being correctly insured if the national governing body had ordered them to stop activities and they had then continued. However, if clubs were advised of the latest guidance and then carried out appropriate risk assessments on whether it was still safe to take part in aquatic activities, they would still be covered.
Jane said: “We understand all the concerns around the guidance we have issued so far and that some of you would prefer that we send out definitive instructions about what you should do within your club environment. There are important reasons why we are issuing guidance, albeit strong guidance, and are not mandating clubs to stop activities, such as training, social get-togethers, face-to-face meetings, land-work and anything else you do within your club environment.”
“The most important reason is due to insurance. All clubs benefit from high-quality insurance as part of the Swim England membership package. Within any insurance policy, including ours, there is a reasonable precautions condition which means that the liability indemnity may be impacted if a club deliberately avoids instruction from the governing body or is found to be acting recklessly. This means that if we mandate clubs to stop activities and they continue to operate, they may find themselves in a position whereby their liability indemnity is not in place.”
“However, if we issue guidance, based on the best advice we can obtain, clubs can then carry out their own risk assessment to determine if they can continue to safely deliver activities in certain situations for certain swimmers. All clubs should record their decisions, whether they are proceeding or not, and ensure risk assessment and risk management is considered throughout.
“The health and well-being of everyone is our primary importance and we are committed to operating in the national interest. This is an ever-changing situation and we will update the guidance when necessary.”
“A number of members have expressed concern that we originally advised clubs to continue training as schools were open and have now changed that advice. The change followed the stronger advice from Government to avoid non-essential activities, take on social responsibility and ensure social distancing. I appreciate for those of us with chlorine in our blood, swimming does feel essential, but in reality it is not the same as going to school. The majority of schools had curtailed extra-curricular activities, before the decision to announce they were closing from Friday, which adds weight to the guidance we have given. We are working to obtain the best advice possible and will continue to share this with you.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday 16 March a range of measures to help combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Having further reviewed the guidance, it is Swim England’s interpretation that club activity falls into the ‘public gathering’ category and therefore it is strongly advising clubs to consider cancelling or postponing activity – including events – until the end of May. Swim schools should also make an informed decision on future lessons based on the current information from the Government.
Swim England will suspend talent activities across all disciplines with immediate effect, having already announced the decision to cancel all national events until the end of May. This will include all international and domestic camps, competitions and related activities such as coach conferences across all aquatic sports.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, recognised the worries from clubs and learn to swim providers but said a final decision on whether to call off sessions and events had to rest with them. She added: “We strongly advise on what we believe is the best course of action in the interests of our coaches, teachers, athletes, learners and volunteers. We will review this on an ongoing basis and continue to provide updates.”
Meanwhile, George Wood, Swim England’s Sport Development Director, has said the suspension on talent activities will be in place until further notice.