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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.

Sport England has announced a £210 million package to help sport and physical activity through Coronavirus. This package consists of:

  • A £35 million Community Emergency Fund, which is open now for local club and community organisations to bid for grants between £300 and £10,000.
  • A £5 million fund for existing Sport England partners facing specific and immediate financial difficulty.
  • £55 million put aside to support the sector during an ongoing period of restrictions; to fund new and innovative ways to keep people active and then, when it is over, to help organisations get back to business and adjust to a different environment.

The Community Emergency Fund is likely to be of most interest to clubs. The details, eligibility criteria and application process can be found on the Sport England website. This fund is designed to complement other sources of funding from the government, such as funds targeted at small businesses. Clubs should consider the funding support that the government has made available before they apply to this fund.

The fund is periodically paused for new applications so it is worth checking the Sport England website for the latest situation.

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.

We are also in regular discussion with Sport England, on how we protect community sports clubs. Sport England have announced a £210 million package of support for clubs, details of which can be found on the Sport England website.

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, there are two things that you can do to support this.

1. Please email us at clubdevelopment@swimming.org to let us know:

  • how the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation is affecting your club
  • the type of support that you would find most beneficial.

We will use this information to further develop these FAQs. We cannot guarantee to be able to resolve all of the issues, but the more information we have, the better we can shape our services and lobby the Government, influence our funders and work with our partners to find solutions.

2. If you would like to share this information directly with Sport England as well, they have requested that sports organisations email coronavirus@sportengland.org to let them know this information too. Read more about this on Sport England's website.

Clubs must check the contracts they have in place with their coaching staff. We would encourage where possible an agreement to be made around payment with coaches during this difficult time. In doing so clubs should consider how best to maintain finances in conjunction with any changes of expenditure.

Swim England had been lobbying the government to provide support for self-employed individuals affected by coronavirus (Covid-19) and details of the support announced by the Chancellor on 26 March can be found on businesssupport.gov.uk.

We would urge all self-employed coaches/staff to check this information – some FAQs have been answered on their FAQ page.

For the self-employed affected by this current situation, HMRC has set up a helpline specifically for the self-employed and businesses who will be effected. They can give you advice on your tax and any benefits you can claim for.

The number for the helpline is 0800 0159 559.

There may be some cover on a case-by-case basis. Clubs need to contact Howdens T: 0121 698 8000.

Do also keep checking the Government's website and Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund for details of the support available.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing from 1 July. The latest information on the scheme is available from the Government's website.

Guidance on making a claim for employed coaches is available from the Government's website but the scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June.

This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June.

As above, also keep monitoring the government website for any details of the Government support.

Swim England Club Membership does not include loss of earnings cover, but if you have a membership with the Institute of Swimming, then some instances may be covered. Please see the latest statement from Howden for more information

Yes, but please follow the government advice on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme is changing from 1 July and will close to new entrants on 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June.

This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June.

Our interpretation is that this activity could still be seen as working and therefore would not be permissible under the scheme. We would expect all clubs to comply fully with the terms of this or any other scheme in order to abide by the law and ensure that they do no create issues for themselves in the future.

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. Please contact your Club Development Officer if you need help or support with this.

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.

If there is still expenditure to cover then this needs to be communicated to members/parents and a reduced fee applied if appropriate. Regular communication is key.

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 and as mentioned in previous answers, clubs should investigate the funding announced by Sport England.

Every club and facility will have a different relationship, so it ultimately depends on the contract the club has with the provider. We would encourage clubs to have discussions with their facility providers and check the terms and conditions of the hire agreement that they have.

Swim England is having regular conversations with pool operators on the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) to all pool users, including our clubs.

Swim England had already called off all national events up until the end of August. On Wednesday 27 May, Swim England issued a statement cancelling all national events scheduled to take place in the latter part of 2020.

How does this impact competitive swimming below national level?

In respect of swimming, this included the Swim England National Winter Championships, traditionally the culmination of the domestic short course swimming season. FINA has also announced that the 15th World Swimming Championships (25m) would be postponed until December 2021.

The Swim England Swimming Leadership Group considers that it will be neither possible nor practical to state regional swimming championships in early November. After very careful consideration, the group has determined that the regional short course championships will not take place in 2020.

The group has also decided that no competition licences will be issued at levels one and two for the remainder of 2020. Meets that have already been granted licences for forthcoming events in 2020 at levels one and two will have the option to be downgraded to level three or four in the first instance.

Cancelled events:

  • Artistic Swimming National Championships, 18-19 April
  • British Masters Swimming Championships, 24-26 April
  • Water Polo National Age Group Championships (U17/U19)
  • Diving National Age Group Championships, 4-7 June
  • Artistic Swimming Combo Cup, 4 July
  • Open Water National Age Group Championships, 27 July
  • National Summer Meet, 29 July-2 August
  • Open Water National Masters Championships, 7 September
  • National County Team Championships, 4 October
  • Masters National Championships, 23-25 October
  • Water Polo National Age Group Championships, November
  • Artistic Swimming National Masters Championships, November
  • Masters Inter County Team Event, November
  • Winter Championships, 3-6 December
  • Water Polo Inter-Regional Championships U14s, December

Read more about national events for our different disciplines on the respective hubs for each sport.

Our interpretation is that open water swimming is considered a form of outdoor activity within the new guidelines which came into force on Wednesday 13 May.

We recognise this will be welcomed by our open water community.

However, 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.

Please note the following important guidance regarding return to training after Covid-19 infection from the Chief Medical Officer at British Swimming:

  • Athletes should refrain from ALL training for a period of 10 days following the start of Covid-19 symptoms.
  • Athletes should be more than seven days symptom-free before re-commencing training.
  • This guidance is widely accepted across the sports medicine world due to the way that the virus affects the body. Starting to train earlier than the above recommendations risks developing complications of Covid-19 and therefore should be avoided. Testing for Covid-19 infection is not current practice and a diagnosis of Covid-19 is made on clinical grounds by speaking with a Doctor or 111.
  • Return to training will be guided on an individual basis, however I felt it important to share the above information with you to ensure all athletes and coaches are aware.

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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