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Swim England is ‘proactively working’ on how it can take the next steps towards competitive activity – after announcing the numbers in some group training sessions can now increase. The latest Government guidelines on group numbers means Swim England has updated its Returning to the Pool guidance for clubs. While no national competitions are scheduled to take place this year, Swim England is looking at how it can safely take the next steps in the return of all its sports. George Wood, Swim England Sport Development Director, said: “Everyone who loves our sports has missed being able to train in the pools and once clubs start sessions, we know athletes will start to wonder when competitions can be held again. We will continue to be guided by the Government on when it will be safe to do so but we are proactively working on how we can take those next steps.”

Group sizes for training

Swim England’s Returning to the Pool guidance for clubs focuses on training activity rather than competitive training or competitions themselves.  Further information regarding competitions as Government guidance on numbers evolves and restrictions on numbers in gatherings relax will be developed. In preparation for the opening of pools on 25 July, Swim England has been following the latest Government guidance on group sizes. Clubs should note that the primary guidance in the Swim England Returning to the Pool document indicates a maximum bather load of 6 m2 per participant.  All activity must also be risk assessed and agreed with the pool operator.

Lane swimming

Clubs should group swimmers to train in a lane.  As far as is possible, that group should continue to train together in subsequent training sessions.  Examples of lane swimming protocols and numbers can be found in the guidance in ‘Guidance for Community Swimming section and the Guidance for Clubs’ section of the Swim England Return to Pools guidance.

Water polo, diving and artistic swimming

Clubs should group participants to train together.  As far as is possible, that group should continue to train together in subsequent training sessions. At present, within Government guidance, the maximum group number for u18s is 15, plus coach(es). Clubs can identify how they can best group their participants to train together in groups of up to 15 maximum. More than one group can be training at one time but the club will need to maintain adequate separation between the groups to respect social-distancing guidance. The maximum number of adults in a group is five plus a coach. The club can have multiple groups of five training at one time led by the same or different coaches.  The club will need to maintain adequate separation between the groups to respect social-distancing guidance.

Land training

For u18s, clubs can now have groups of up to 15, subject to risk assessment and maintaining safety and safeguarding of participants. Swim England’s land training guidance will be updated accordingly. For adults, land training can be offered to groups of five (plus the coach) but multiple groups can train at one time under the guidance of the coach subject to risk assessment and maintaining the safety of participants.

Competitive activity 

Swim England is proactively looking at how it can take the next steps in the return of its sports and, in particular, competition in all of our disciplines. The Discipline Leadership Groups for each sport are working on this now and will be aiming to share more detail in September.

It is expected that all participants will require a significant block of training before recommencing competition and guidance to support coaches has been produced on this and will be published on Wednesday 22 July. The Government guidance around competition can change dependent on the situation with Covid-19, and Swim England will be monitoring these developments and seeking to build contingencies where necessary.

For competition in water polo and artistic swimming, Swim England will need to comply with the Government’s recently released Return to Recreational Team Sport Framework that deals with ‘competitive recreational activity’. Swim England will be working as quickly as possible to submit its plans to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. For the moment, however, the guidance for water polo and artistic swimming is very clearly focused on training activities that are not ‘competitive’ and maintain social distancing throughout. For that reason, Swim England is confident that this can commence from 25 July when pools open as long as clubs adhere to the guidance.

Issued 20 July 2020