Swim England

A nation swimming

Incredibly disappointing decision but it’s vital pools reopen as early as possible

Disappointed Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said it’s vital that swimming pools reopen at the earliest available opportunity after MPs voted in favour of a second national lockdown.

Restrictions being introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus come into force in the early hours of Thursday 5 November until at least Wednesday 2 December.

It will see all pools and leisure centres told to close.

Swim England understands school swimming lessons, as part of the national curriculum, will be allowed to take place.

Jane said: “Swim England fully supports measures to reduce the spread of the virus and help protect our NHS but this decision is incredibly disappointing for the millions of people who benefit from being active in the water up and down the country for their physical and mental wellbeing.

“It was heartening to hear a number of MPs speak up in the chamber on behalf of swimming and other affected sports following our lobbying work and I hope the Government took those points on board when considering which facilities are able to reopen.

“I would again thank the 23,000 people who took the time to sign our open letter to the Prime Minister in advance of today’s debate.

“We consistently made the case that pools were well-managed environments with a proven record of incredibly low transmission rates which makes the decision to close them particularly frustrating.

“School swimming is able to continue and we would encourage all schools who are able to do so to continue providing this essential life skill to their pupils.

“We will now redouble our efforts to make the case that it is absolutely vital that the Government reopens swimming pools as early as possible as we emerge from this second lockdown so that they may be able to once again help in the nation’s fight against Covid-19.

“It is also now more important than ever that the Government provides a Sports Recovery Fund to help pools and clubs survive the second lockdown and beyond and we will continue, alongside partners, to make the case for this as part of the ongoing #SaveOurSports campaign.”

Seeking clarification

Swim England is seeking clarifications on a exemption to a clause in the legislation around ’indoor gyms, fitness studios, indoor sports facilities and other indoor leisure centres for supervised activities for children’

The recognised national governing body has been in discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport throughout the day to see if this relates to learn to swim sessions and organised club sessions for under 18s.

It is aware that a number of leisure providers are taking advice on this point – however, the DCMS has so far been unable to provide any clarification to Swim England.

It is understood that all private pools face the same restrictions as public leisure facilities but Swim England is also seeking clarification on this matter as well.

Jane added: “We are working to see if the clause in the legislation gives us an opportunity for under 18s to be in the water in learn to swim sessions and club activity.

“We understand facility owners and operators are taking advice and are making plans based on the guidance they receive.

“As soon as we have the official Government position, we will let you know.”

There are also exemptions to the lockdown rules for elite swimmers training and Swim England will be working with British Swimming to clarify who will be eligible for this.