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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

Swim England launches Level X Racing

October 15, 2020   By

An ‘exciting new concept’ for swimmers to pit themselves against other swimmers from across the country without leaving their home pool has been officially launched by Swim England. Level X Racing gives club swimmers the opportunity to take part in a series of time-trials using all strokes at varying distances, the times from which can be submitted to Swim England rankings.

Tom Baster, chairperson of the Swim England Swimming Leadership Group, said the initial feedback from the pilot events staged had been well received: “We know our clubs and members that are back in the water have missed taking part in galas and events due to the coronavirus pandemic. Level X Racing is a fun opportunity for them to practice some racing skills in the absence of those club, county, regional and national events. The feedback we have had so far from the test sessions has been extremely encouraging. Everyone who has taken part has loved the chance to test themselves against their team-mates and we hope clubs across the country will engage with this exciting new concept.”

The first phase of Level X Racing begins on 23 October with staggered submission times to enable swimmers to build up their training to the longer distance events. A second phase of the competition will be held in 2021 in the hope more clubs would be able to take part. After each distance is completed, the quickest swimmers in each age group will feature in a national leader board published across Swim England’s website and social media channels. The first leader board will be all 50m and 100m swims across all strokes, together with 100m Individual Medley. Times must be submitted to rankings by 24 November and leader boards will then be published on 30 November.

George Wood, Swim England Sport Development Director, said that leader boards for all ages, as well as para swimmers and hearing-impaired swimmers, would make Level X accessible for everyone: “We appreciate that not all our clubs are back in the water due to pools still being closed and we are doing all we can to try and rectify that situation. The leader boards add an extra dimension to these time trials that all swimmers will have been missing this year. We hope the introduction of the leader boards will encourage even more to get involved. We’re looking forward to seeing Level X Racing and the leader boards develop, and hearing stories from clubs across the country.”

Swimmers wanting to take part in Level X Racing must be a Swim England Category 2 member in order to participate. To encourage as many swimmers as possible to get involved, current Category 1 members who take part in Level X will be automatically upgraded free of charge. This temporary Category 2 membership will only be valid until 31 December 2020.

Find out the full information on Level X Racing here.

Issued 15 October 2020

Swimming Trust donation to promote water polo

October 14, 2020   By

The Swimming Trust  has donated £6,000 to fund two key initiatives in the Swim England Water Polo Strategy 2020-25 to help provide new opportunities at all levels of the sport to widen participation and support officials. A total of £4,500 will be used to make a series of short videos to promote mini-polo and water polo for children aged 8-14 on social media and to provide schools with grants to set up their own water polo clubs and teams. The remaining £1,500 will fund refereeing workshops hosted by the British Water Polo League to help aspiring and existing referees at all levels to ensure developing players are best prepared for playing at the top level.

Toby King, chair of the Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group, said: “I am delighted that the Swimming Trust is supportive of our new strategy and funding these key initiatives. We hope that they will significantly accelerate our ability to recruit a larger, more diverse group of new players, while ensuring that the game is officiated consistently at all levels to help our aspiring competitors get used to the conditions they will experience at the highest level. Despite the recent imposition of the ‘Rule of Six’, under-18s are still allowed to train almost normally and play competitive matches, so this funding is particularly welcome at a difficult time.”

The Swimming Trust, which relies entirely on donations, is dedicated to delivering opportunities to enjoy aquatic sport throughout the UK. The Trust’s secretary, Brian DeVal, said “We are very happy to be able to support the England Water Polo strategy to involve more people in this great sport. In particular, we are pleased that the recent rule changes mean it is now possible for children as young as eight to play for a school or club team in a water polo tournament. This is the second award made by the Swimming Trust to help the development of water polo in the past year. The first award was for the training of tutors to help develop water polo referees and other officials. Together these awards will provide new opportunities at all levels of the game.”

Issued 9 October 2020

2021 County Champs to move later in the calendar

October 7, 2020   By

Swim England has confirmed that, due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, the usual January/February time slot for County Championships is now highly unlikely. The event will be suspended until later in 2021, with a planned alternative window from late May until 18 July 2021, and a further racing opportunity being opened up for counties later in the year so that older swimmers sitting exams will be given the chance to participate at an appropriate time. Counties and regions will be consulted to ensure that participation in the Regional Open Water Championships is not affected by this decision.

Swim England’s Swimming Leadership Group has made the decision following consultations with volunteers who organise the County events and Regional Swimming Managers, and taking into account the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.

Tom Baster, Chair of the Swimming Leadership Group, said: “We are aware how much the County Age Group Swimming Championships mean to the entire swimming community – they are excellent competitions, organised by highly-committed volunteers and officials. Staging the events in their original timeframe would result in championship weekends that are significantly reduced in size and number of competitors, owing to social distancing laws. Obviously, we understand that there will be some frustrations at this delay but the most important thing is the safety of everyone involved. The swimming community is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that these events happen in 2021 wherever possible. We hope by creating a later calendar window for the events, it will enable us to achieve this and that everyone understands the reasoning behind this decision.”

Swim England has also confirmed the current plan is to run Regional Championships within their usual window and it will be making every effort to enable this to happen. Over the coming months, meetings will be held with Regional and County Swimming Coordinators on a regular basis to put plans in place for the revised county window. These will be communicated with members when details are finalised.

Swim England will soon be publishing details of its full Return to Competition strategy, including plans for the phased return of Open Meets. The first part of this features Level X Racing, which will be fully launched next week following completion of the pilot scheme.

Issued 7 October 2020