Swim England is calling on the Government to help prevent hundreds of swimming pools at risk of being mothballed due to the Coronavirus lockdown. The national governing body fears potentially up to 10 per cent of the 5,000 swimming pools in England will stay shut even after restrictions are eased by the Government.
Discussions between Swim England and pool operators and owners has revealed how financial worries and the cost of bringing a pool out of lockdown may result in facilities remaining closed indefinitely. Swim England is now asking the Government to ensure that financial support is available to help pools and ensure that communities do not lose a facility, which generates significant social value. Detailed guidance and support to help pools reopen is also being developed by Swim England.
Swim England has released The Importance of Pools Post-lockdown document, which details how a 25-metre pool can generate £7.2 million social value in community savings, and save the NHS and social care system more than £1.2 million. Swim England’s Value of Swimming report, published last November, also revealed that aquatic activity helps to save the health and social care system more than £357 million pounds per year.
Before the lockdown around 14 million adults in England went swimming each year, with more than one million children learning to swim outside of school through Swim England’s Learn to Swim programmes. Swim England is, and will be, working with key partners and colleagues in the sector to set out specific guidance for each of the disciplines and activities.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “It is clear that facilities have been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19, and there is a real concern that some pools will not reopen. Whilst we understand the recent impact on the public purse, it would be a short-sighted view to not invest in swimming pools today which we know will have a bigger, long-term impact on the health and well-being of our society. That is why it is so important that pools are given the necessary support to reopen their doors for people to enjoy once more.”
She continued: “We know that swimming improves people’s physical and mental well-being, supports community cohesion and saves the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Swimming can tackle a number of the problems facing society, particularly at the moment, in a way that other sports cannot. Swimming pools generate huge amounts of social value for their local communities, with people of all ages able to enjoy them. For some, they are the only appropriate environment that enables them to be active and transform their lives. We ask that all partners, stakeholders and the Government support our commitment to reopen all pools as soon as it is safe to do so.”