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Lockdown rules for aquatic activity confirmed

November 5, 2020   By

All public and private pools in England have been forced to close until at least Wednesday 2 December as part of the restrictions introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus. This is what the new restrictions mean for all aquatic activity.

School swimming: 

School swimming lessons as part of the national curriculum can take place in a school-owned pool or usual venue if the operator is open.

Universities and boarding schools

Swim England understands boarding schools may use their own facilities for their pupils as now, but may not invite those outside the boarding school into the facilities. This will be confirmed later today. It is understood university pools may only open for elite return-to-training purposes.

Private and public pools

All pools must close unless able to stay open to facilitate school swimming lessons only. Private pools are only be used by the owner’s immediate family or support bubble and must not be hired out.

Club activity

Club activity at pools must not take place at pools during the lockdown. Virtual home activity sessions can be organised by clubs to help keep members active.

Learn to swim (excluding school swimming)

All learn to swim sessions, including baby swimming, are on hold during the lockdown. No 1-2-1 lessons that are held in private or endless pools can take place.

Elite training

Elite training can continue in designated facilities under the original Return to Training Guidance. Only those swimmers who were named on the original list during the first lockdown are eligible. Swim England will be working with British Swimming to try to keep these swimmers in the water if possible.

Issued 5 November 2020

Deja vu: lockdown again

November 4, 2020   By

In a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus, MPs voted today in favour of a second national lockdown that comes into force in the early hours of 5 November and will last until at least 2 December. Pools and leisure centres have been told to close but Swim England understands that school swimming lessons, as part of the national curriculum, will be allowed to take place.

Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson said: “Swim England fully supports measures to reduce the spread of the virus and help protect our NHS but this decision is incredibly disappointing for the millions of people who benefit from being active in the water up and down the country for their physical and mental wellbeing. It was heartening to hear a number of MPs speak up in the chamber on behalf of swimming and other affected sports following our lobbying work and I hope the Government took those points on board when considering which facilities are able to reopen. I would again thank the 23,000 people who took the time to sign our open letter to the Prime Minister in advance of today’s debate. We consistently made the case that pools were well-managed environments with a proven record of incredibly low transmission rates which makes the decision to close them particularly frustrating.”

Seeking clarification

Swim England is now seeking clarification on an exemption to a clause in the legislation around ’indoor gyms, fitness studios, indoor sports facilities and other indoor leisure centres for supervised activities for children’, and has been in discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport throughout the day to see if this relates to learn to swim sessions and organised club sessions for under 18s. A number of leisure providers are also taking advice on this point but the DCMS has so far been unable to provide any clarification to Swim England. It is understood that all private pools face the same restrictions as public leisure facilities, but Swim England is seeking clarification on this matter too.

Jane Nickerson added: “We are working to see if the clause in the legislation gives us an opportunity for under 18s to be in the water in learn to swim sessions and club activity. We understand facility owners and operators are taking advice and are making plans based on the guidance they receive. As soon as we have the official Government position, we will let you know.”

Exemptions to the lockdown rules include elite athlete training and Swim England will be working with British Swimming to clarify who will be eligible for this.

Issued 4 November 2020

Fundraising seminars aim to help boost club coffers

October 30, 2020   By

Swim England’s Head of Fundraising, Michael Mogan, is to lead two online fundraising seminars early next month to help club to boost their coffers. This comes as Sport England announced details of a £16.5 million Return to Play fund which has been set up to help groups, clubs and organisations financially impacted by coronavirus restrictions. The free seminars will focus on the Return to Play: Active Together element of the Sport England, which has £1.5m available to clubs as part of a crowdfunding initiative. Match-funding of up to £10,000 is available to cover loss of income.

Sports clubs and organisations are being encouraged to set up their own campaigns to help sustain them through the pandemic. The Swim England seminars will focus on the best ways to achieve this but will also touch on other areas of the Return to Play fund and other opportunities that can help bring cash into the clubs. The workshops take place on Wednesday 4 November and Wednesday 11 November from 6pm and clubs can sign up to three volunteers to attend by clicking here.

Claire Coleman, Swim England Head of Development, said: “The crowdfunding initiative will help clubs and organisations set up their own campaigns to help sustain them through the coronavirus crisis. It’s a great alternative if they don’t meet the criteria of the other aspects of the Return to Play package. We’re keen to hear from any aquatics clubs that may have already had success through other fundraising campaigns to share their experiences. If you wish to get involved, please contact us by emailing volunteering@swimming.org.”

The other two elements of the Sport England Return to Play fund are small grants and the community asset fund. A total of £10 million is in the small grants pot and clubs, groups and organisations can apply for between £300 and £10,000 to respond to the immediate challenges of returning to play in a Covid-19-safe environment. The community asset fund has £5 million available to provide grants ranging in value from £10,001 to £50,000.

Further details about the Sport England packages are available by clicking here.

Issued 29 October 2020

Roadmap for return to competition published

October 27, 2020   By

Following the launch of Level X Racing, a five-point roadmap outlining a ‘safe and effective’ route to returning to swimming competitions has been published by Swim England. Clubs can operate currently at stage three of the pathway and dates for progressing to stages four and five have yet to be confirmed, but the next steps have been detailed to ensure that clubs are ready for a return to competition as swiftly as the situation allows.

George Wood, Swim England Development Director, said: “The return to competition for swimming is a vital component of our sport that motivates and inspires our athletes, coaches, volunteers and clubs. We have focused on enabling a return to competition for all of our members, stimulating activity within clubs and then at local level in the first instance. We are also very aware that whilst some clubs have been training for some time, others are not yet back in the water. To that end we have developed as flexible an approach as possible. We have also identified the need to demonstrate to participants, workforce and operators that our events can be delivered safely and effectively in a Covid-secure manner. At the minute, we are operating in uncertain times and therefore it must be stressed that our plans are provisional and subject to change.”

He added: “We are keen to enable competition to take place as soon as it can and ideally would like events such as Regional and National competition in 2021 to take place as normally planned. Because of the current changing situation, it is extremely challenging to predict with any certainty when we can move to Stages 4 and 5. However, our expectation is that we will not move to Stage 4 before January 2021, although that could be later dependent on the national situation. The Swimming Leadership Group will monitor this situation on an ongoing basis and we will be communicating regularly with members and stakeholders to ensure a safe and effective return to competition as swiftly as the situation allows.”

To view the five-point roadmap, click here.

Issued 26 October 2020

Coronavirus FAQs updated to reflect three-tier system

October 16, 2020   By

Swim England has updated its coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions after the Government unveiled its new three-tier system to help tackle the outbreak. The FAQs now cover what the restrictions mean for facilities in each tier, how the system affects team sports and learn to swim lessons, plus how the highest level will impact clubs. The new list of questions can be viewed by clicking here.

Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson said: “The key points to note are that activities in every tier for those aged under 18 can carry on as before, as long as facilities remain open. In some instances, pools may be closed for some groups in very high-risk areas but we have urged any discussions between central and local government leaders to seriously consider the implications this would have on people’s mental and physical health. We are disappointed that the new restrictions have a huge impact for over 18s taking part in indoor team sports, which will sadly affect our water polo and artistic swimming clubs. The guidelines for these team sports mean that only over 18s from the same household or support bubble are able to take part in training or competitive activities, even in organised club sessions. This is a real shame when we have worked so hard on our Return to Team Sport guidance for water polo, while we are also just waiting for the Government to sign off our artistic swimming guidance.

She added: “Tier three restrictions are likely to differ across the country as more areas move into tier three so we’d encourage anyone who has any concerns to regularly check our FAQs or email guidance@swimming.org with any questions or concerns they may have.”

Learn to swim sessions can still take place and parents will still be allowed to supervise. School pools are able to remain open in all tiers for school swimming and water safety lessons to continue.

The document will be regularly updated to reflect any changes and further clarification announced by the Government.

Issued 16 October 2020