Swim England

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

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 January that the country will enter a new national lockdown, we will update our FAQs based on the latest guidance provided by the Government as soon as possible. The new FAQs will be published on this page as soon as possible.

We will then continue to update the below on an ongoing basis where necessary.

Once published, if you have a question that is not answered below please do email guidance@swimming.org or clubguidance@swimming.org if your query relates to club activity.

We know the situation is desperately sad for everyone who loves any of our amazing disciplines and we will continue to push the government to get all our members and clubs back in the water as soon as possible.

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.

The Government guidance states that:

Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close. Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

Yes you can swim in a public outdoor place such as the sea.

The Government guidance states:


You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming. Personal training can continue one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds
  • Outdoor sports venues must close, for example:
  • tennis courts
  • golf courses
  • swimming pools

Open water swimming is a fantastic activity, however it is important to ensure anyone considering going open water swimming (particularly at this time of year) is aware of how to do so safely.

If you’re thinking of heading to the open water you can read some helpful tips here.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as that.

British Swimming is the organisation designated by UK Sport that determines elite swimmers (all sports) regarding COVID. As per their guidelines, British Swimming is the organisation responsible for supporting athletes leading up to and including the Olympic Games. This means that any swimmer (all sports) defined as elite must be agreed with British Swimming who in turn have to provide a rationale to UK Sport for this definition. This definition is based on the real potential around attaining selection for either the Tokyo or Paris Olympics. We are actively working closely with British Swimming to ensure that these specific athletes on that trajectory are appropriately supported within the limitations of the rules.

In addition, these athletes are bound to train in covid secure venues that are administered and overseen by British Swimming. Even if more individuals were classed as elite, the government guidance for returning to elite training states that “whilst some athletes, such as swimmers or divers, may normally use public venues, under the current rules only official elite training venues can be used.” This means that any venue to be utilised must be assessed and meet strict standards in terms of protocols and procedures.

If the same rules apply following the national lockdown as they did before then elite athletes can train as members of their club in their sessions where local restrictions allow it. When restrictions (for instance for an 18 plus athlete in tier 3) exist, elite athletes aged 18 plus can only train in a secure COVID venue approved by British Swimming. In some instances the secure environment may be a separate part of the pool to the club and in these cases the elite athletes cannot socialise, enter or exit with the club swimmers etc.

With the current lockdown all competitive activity is suspended until further notice.

As the lockdown ends and pools re-open, we will reactivate the Return to Competition Framework which provides the structure for a phased return to competition in swimming. Similarly, the Leadership Groups for all disciplines will be monitoring the situation closely and developing plans for the safe return of athletes to competition as the situation allows.