Swim England

A nation swimming


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 raised to HIGH in the UK. This allows the government to plan for all eventualities.

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 can confirm our latest plans to deal with the challenges presented by Coronavirus (COVID-19) which includes arrangements for moving courses online where possible; a move to staff working from home. Longer-term plans are being developed.

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 while minimising the need for staff to travel.

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.

Questions for clubs

No. On 20 March, the Government told all the UK's nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close.

The Prime Minister has said the situation will be reviewed each month. Following this announcement you can read the full statement from our Chief Executive, Jane Nickerson, on our news pages.

Sport England has announced a £195 million package to help sport and physical activity through Coronavirus. This package consists of:

  • A new £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which is open now for local club and community organisations to bid for grants between £300 and £10,000.
  • A new £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 £20 million 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.

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% 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 all of Swim England staff are working, and remain contactable for direct support. We will be communicating directly with clubs to better understand the challenges being faced and how we can best shape our support (see next FAQ below).

We are also in regular discussion with Sport England, on how we protect community sports clubs. Sport England have announced a £195 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.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance has produced some information regarding whether Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and charities eligible for some of the government support announced for businesses.

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 help line 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.

Swim England continues to lobby the government alongside partners from the sporting sector to press for additional support. Do also keep checking the government 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.

This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise known as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80 per cent of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. Further information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available on the Government's business support website.

Guidance on making a claim for employed coaches is available on gov.uk.

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 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:

      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).
      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 has cancelled a number of events due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The decision was made following the Government’s announcement to implement increased social distancing, avoid crowds gathering and carrying out any unnecessary travel.

All competitions organised by Swim England, the National Governing Body that were scheduled to be held between now and the end of August 2020 have been called off. Read more about this on our news pages.

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

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

Swim England has suspended talent activities across all disciplines with immediate effect, having already announced the decision to cancel all national events until the end of August.

This includes all international and domestic camps, competitions and related activities such as coach conferences across all aquatic sports.

We have been in correspondence with Public Health England who are directing people to the latest government advice on what is allowed:

“People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. But you can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.”

View the gov.uk FAQs for full advice.

Open Water swimming is not one of the government’s suggested forms of outside activity and we urge all our members to note this.

This will not only ensure social distancing and deter mass gatherings in open water areas, but will also protect our emergency services and other members of the public. Whilst you may be fully competent, going into the open water could encourage less proficient members of the public to take part.

With pools closed across the country as well, we know this is a frustrating situation for our swimmers and those who take part in all aquatic activity. However, the restrictions are currently in place for a very important reason and we’d urge all our members to ensure they abide by the Government guidelines, stay at home and avoid public gatherings to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

We are working on a number of training plans which will cover psychology, coaching, nutrition, lifestyle plus strength and conditioning to ensure our athletes across all our disciplines can stay fit and healthy – both mentally and physically – without having to leave their homes. These will be published on our social media channels and/or website.

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.

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 not create issues for themselves in the future.

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.

As the situation is changing rapidly, keep up to date with government guidance and if your pool closes then you can contact Howden on 0121 698 8040. They will review the reason for the pool closure and request any relevant information needed to consider a claim.

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

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

We 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.

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 that has a blended learning option available.

This will give customers the opportunity to work through the theoretical elements of their course online at home, at their own pace, over the coming weeks and months.

Customers will then be able to choose a face to face or blended learning course in the future to complete the rest of their training and qualification.

Find out more about changes 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

The Sport and Recreation Alliance has produced a helpful summary which they have posted on their website. 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% 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% 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% 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.

We advise all private pool owners to heed Government advice about social distancing.

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.