Swim England

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Swim England/Institute of Swimming Coronavirus (Covid-19) FAQs

This page is being regularly updated to reflect the latest advice from gov.uk, World Health Organisation (WHO), and Public Health England (PHE).

We are following government advice as to the risk of coronavirus, which has been lowered from category 4 to 3, meaning the epidemic is in “general circulation” but transmission is no longer “high or rising exponentially”

We are monitoring the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and its impact, and doing all we can to make safe and reassure our customers and workforce.

Coronavirus FAQs

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.

General questions

We have adapted our way of working to deal with the challenges presented by Coronavirus (COVID-19), including moving courses online where possible; lobbying the government for more support for the swimming sector. We developed guidance to enable the reopening of swimming pools, which took place in July. We are continuing to push for additional support for the sector.

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.

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 wellbeing.

For information concerning the Institute of Swimming visit their website at swimming.org/ios.

People should NOT wear masks/coverings when swimming, as these may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably.

When the mask/covering becomes wet it makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms. The most important preventative measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance.

Government guidance states that face coverings are not required in exercise and sports venues but people should check with their local pool whether they are encouraging attendees to wear a face covering upon entering the facility before heading through to poolside.

Questions for clubs

Swimming pools are now allowed to reopen, so many clubs have been able to resume training (whilst adhering to all relevant guidance from the government, Swim England and their local facility). However we know that many clubs are still not able to get back in the water and we continue to push for additional support to get more clubs back in the water as soon as possible. Swim England has also produced guidance to support land-based training, which you can find by clicking here.

A full range of support measures have been made available by the UK Government. Clubs seeking financial support are advised to investigate these financial support schemes and consider those they are eligible for.

Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund is currently paused for the foreseeable future whilst they are in the process of reviewing applications however information on their other funds is available here.

A number of Community Foundations and other organisations have launched funding programmes to assist local organisations in responding to the challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic. On the following link you will find a list of organisations providing support and the types of funding they have made available:

Clubs registered as community amateur sports clubs or charities can use gift aid to generate funds from HM Revenue and Customs. An extra 25p will be paid by HMRC for every £1 donated by individual taxpayers. Members/supporters may be prepared to provide financial support to a registered club while it is closed by making donations to help it survive and HMRC will provide a 25 per cent cash rebate on the donation.

We will continue to keep clubs informed via our website FAQs and social media channels as the situation evolves. Our Club Development Officers and other Swim England staff are working, and remain contactable for direct support. We have been communicating directly with clubs to better understand the challenges being faced and how we can best shape our support (see next FAQ below).

We worked hard to secure the reopening of pools and were grateful to our clubs for getting behind our #OpenOurPools campaign. But we know that even though the lockdown restrictions have now been eased and pools are allowed to open, hundreds of pools are not reopening and clubs are not yet allowed back in some of the recently opened pools, leaving swimmers understandably frustrated and upset. We continue to lobby the government for additional support for swimming pools as part of the #SaveLeisure campaign to get pools back open and running for our clubs to enjoy once more.

As the government position on Coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to evolve we will continue 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, we ask all clubs to complete the Return to Pool survey sent directly via email. This will help us gain a better understanding of available water space and use this information to campaign for sector funding.

The important factor is checking the club’s own constitution or governing document and finding a solution that is acceptable to the voting membership and/or in accordance with your governing document.

Potential options include:

  • 1. Email or call the voting membership of the club to establish if they are happy with a virtual AGM. If your members are in favour of this, your AGM can be delivered through a virtual meeting space. (Swim England are happy to direct clubs towards appropriate platforms for this if needed).

    • 2. If the above is not practical then due to these exceptional circumstances, the AGM could be delayed for a number of months, until such time as government guidance changes.

This will be down to each club’s individual financial circumstances.

Swim England is compiling a list of best practice examples to help demonstrate how clubs (including other sports) have responded to the situation. This will be made available shortly.

Sport England’s Club Matters website may also contain helpful resources.

Swim England has announced all its remaining national events in 2020 have now been cancelled.

The decision has been taken to allow the recognised national governing body to start planning for its competitions in 2021.

It will also ensure athletes do not rush back to full fitness and potentially put themselves at the risk of injury when pools are eventually reopened.

The issuing of event licences is currently suspended and will continue to be so until further notice.

Any licences that have already been issued are provisional in status.

We are advising that only competent and experienced open water swimmers use this form of exercise, whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Even then, we ask that swimmers consider the risks to themselves and others whilst participating in this activity as the majority of locations will not have lifeguards and there is a real risk of cold water shock at this time of year.

Alongside British Triathlon and RLSS UK, as well as the relevant public health bodies, we have published guidance to ensure that any return to open water swimming can be done in a safe manner.

Government guidance around physical exercise and the return of sport enables some land-based training and open water club activity to take place. You can read our guidance around this by clicking here.

This guidance only relates to England.

Questions relating to the Institute of Swimming training

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.

We have been working with our Insurance partner, Howden, to provide further clarity and guidance for Institute of Swimming Members.

Howden have released a full statement for members with further information.

If you need further guidance please contact Howden on 0121 698 8040.

Due to office closures, Howden staff are currently working from home. They are still taking calls (view full Howden contact details on their website) but you may need to leave a message and they will call you back.

Do also keep checking the government website for details of the support available.

The loss of income cover is only applicable to pool closures and the personal accident cover is for accidents sustained when working, not illnesses.

We have postponed all face-to-face training until the end of July and 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 beyond this date.

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.

This will give customers the opportunity to work through the theoretical elements of their course online at home, either through online learning or webinar cased classrooms.

Customers will then be able to complete the practical elements of their training once leisure centres and pools are open.

Find out more 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.

Once you are on furlough, you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:

  • making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
  • providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer

Questions for swimming teachers, swim schools and pool operators

On 26 March, the Chancellor announced a package of support for self-employed individuals.

In recognition of the likely impact of coronavirus (Covid-19), the Budget introduced temporary 100 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 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.

The Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group has issued detailed guidance on this issue.

You can find resources on our teaching hub.

You can also refer to:

  • YST
  • Sport England
  • RLSS
  • UK Active
  • AfPE

Swim England will be updating this guidance as more information becomes available.

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