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Swim England invites PM to visit training session during plea to reconsider ban

Swim England has invited Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend an aquatic club’s training session to see the ‘extensive measures’ put in place to ensure people’s safety at pools across the country.

The recognised national governing body has issued the invitation in a letter pleading with him to urgently reconsider the decision to ban over 18s from taking part in indoor aquatic sports in tier three areas.

Currently, those aged 18 or over in the new very high alert tier three areas are prevented from taking part in any club activity at indoor swimming pools.

Swim England has expressed its frustrations that the new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus following the second national lockdown are prohibiting thousands of its members from attending training sessions.

Now chief executive Jane Nickerson has urged Mr Johnson to see for himself how safe an environment pools can be.

In her letter, she wrote: “Since the first lockdown, more than 1,000 clubs up and down the country have been operating in a Covid-secure way, offering the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people of all ages, including thousands aged 18 and over, to be active in the water and improve their health and wellbeing.

“Being denied this opportunity following the end of the second national lockdown is devastating for so many and we believe the decision to prevent indoor aquatic sports in tier three is a mistake.

“The Government has itself repeatedly stressed the importance of being active to help in the fight against Covid-19 yet members aged 18 and over in many clubs across the country are unable to return to the activities they love.

“On behalf of the many people aged 18 and over who are part of our fantastic swimming, water polo, diving or artistic swimming clubs, I would implore you to look again at the decision to ban indoor aquatic sport in tier three areas.

“I would extend an invitation to you to join me to visit a Swim England-affiliated club session to see for yourself the thorough measures that have been put in place to ensure the safety of participants, coaches, volunteers and pool staff.

“I am confident that such a visit would reassure you that these organised sessions can be conducted safely for participants aged 18 and over.”

Disappointed as our members

Jane also recognised the frustrations of the over 18s that can go swimming in a public session in all tiers but are not able to train with their clubs in the very high alert areas.

“We’re as disappointed as our members in tier three areas who have been unable to train for so long and are still unable to get into the water with their clubs,” said Jane.

“It is extremely difficult for divers who are aged 18 and over as there is no opportunity for them to dive outside the club environment.

“The guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was only confirmed after the Government vote on the new tiered restrictions but, unfortunately, it was as we thought and resulted in these prohibitive measures which seem so unfair to so many.

“We recognise that action needs to be taken to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by coronavirus but if over 18s can go swimming at any time, we believe they should be able to train in a Covid-secure environment with their clubs as well.

“So, we will continue to lobby the Government to reconsider the decision and call on Mr Johnson to order a review of the tiered restrictions for indoor sport to be carried out at the earliest available opportunity to allow everyone to be able to return to the pool as a matter of urgency.”

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