Swim England

A nation swimming

Please reconsider ‘frustrating ruling’ which bans over 18s from training with clubs

Swim England has urged the Government to change its ‘frustrating ruling’ which bans thousands of over 18s from training with their clubs.

As more over 18s were this week prevented from taking part in club activity following the Government’s latest review of the coronavirus tier restrictions, chief executive Jane Nickerson said the regulations were ‘hugely disappointing’ and vowed not to give up the fight to get them altered.

Jane has reiterated her invitation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend a club training session to see how safe they are in the hope of getting the Government to reconsider its stance.

Currently, over 18s are not allowed to take part in indoor aquatic sports in tier three areas with their clubs – but they can attend public, individual sessions.

Jane said: “The problem is that the regulations set by Government do not drill down to specific activities and it is really difficult to focus them on individual activities.

“In the first lockdown, swimming and diving was classed as an individual activity and the Government made a distinction between individual and team sports.

“However, this is not the case this time around – it’s a frustrating ruling.

“The reason for over 18s being restricted with regards to organised activities is because of concerns about the social side of organised group training and post-activity socialisation.

“I have tried very hard to convince them that over 18s swimmers and divers are very prepared to train and go home, ignoring their fellow club members.

“If over 18s can swim safely in a public, socially distanced session, they should be allowed to swim safely in a club, socially distanced session.”

It was hoped that more areas may be downgraded to tier two during this latest review but rises in coronavirus cases across the country ahead of the Christmas holiday has seen more counties placed into the very high level.

Review restrictions

Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Surrey (except Waverley), Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant would all move into tier three restrictions from 12.01am on Saturday 19 December.

That follows the decision to include London and parts of Essex in tier three earlier this week.

Only Bristol and North Somerset were downgraded from tier three to tier two, while Herefordshire moved from tier two to tier one.

Jane added: “We recognise that action needs to be taken to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by coronavirus.

“However, I completely understand the frustrations of swimmers who are allowed to swim in the same lane, in the same pool with the same people in a public session but are prevented from doing the same as part of an organised club session.

“It is also extremely difficult for divers who are aged 18 and over as in many pools there is no opportunity for them to dive outside the club environment and diving is a naturally distanced activity.

“For our team disciplines, it is not possible to practice specific individual drills in these sessions and so again they are effectively shut out from the sports they love and which are often such important parts of maintaining their mental wellbeing.

“We understand that the team elements can’t take place at the moment, but believe that individual drills with no interaction as permitted in tier two areas should also be allowed in tier three.

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