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Package is welcomed ... but aquatic sports ‘fighting for survival’ need support

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has welcomed a Winter Survival Package for sports which lost major spectator income due to Covid-19 restrictions – but stressed aquatic sports are also ‘fighting for survival’ and need to be supported.

The Government has today announced that major spectator sports will receive a combined £300 million cash injection to help protect their immediate futures.

It will help sports – from national governing bodies through to clubs – that have been impacted by the coronavirus restrictions.

Support will be provided to rugby union, horse racing, women’s football and the lower tiers of the National League football.

Rugby league, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing will also benefit from the package.

Jane said she was pleased to see a number of sports receive support but called for further investment for those ‘vitally important’ activities not benefitting from this fund.

She added: “It’s encouraging to see support being provided for those organisations who have lost their major spectator income in order to protect their immediate futures over the winter period.

“Now what I would like to see is any further Government investment focused on sports that have missed out on this package but have also been severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions.

“Our work as a national governing body is vast but with around 80 per cent of our income self-generated, we have seen a huge reduction in our finances due to the pandemic.

Vitally important

“The grassroots of our sport, including the 1,000-plus aquatic clubs across England, also need support having lost the majority of their income – including valuable income from their own events since March.

“There is no doubt that we are fighting for survival, both as an organisation and a sector, and therefore it would have been a lifeline to have been part of the announcement today.

“While we may not be classed as a major spectator sport, swimming is one of the biggest participation sports with 14 million adults swimming in 2019.

“The physical and mental health benefits of aquatic activity are worth more than £357 million a year to the NHS and social care system alone.

“It’s clear that swimming and aquatic exercise is vitally important to millions and can help people live longer, better and happier lives.

“Increased investment is necessary to ensure this remains the case. Without pools, without clubs, without our sport, the nation’s long-term health is at risk, children will not learn a vital life skill and talented athletes in all our aquatic disciplines will not have the opportunity to reach their potential.”

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