Swim England

A nation swimming

Managers explain what to expect from a post-lockdown visit to their centres

The managers of two swimming pools have explained what processes are now in place and what to expect from a post-lockdown visit to their centres.

The latest wave of the #LoveSwimming campaign is aiming to rebuild confidence as people return to the pool.

As part of this, managers at two separate Freedom Leisure facilities have provided some insight into how their new environment works.

Perdiswell Leisure Centre in Worcester and Littlehampton Wave both reopened on Saturday 25 July after the Government gave the go ahead.

Prior to reopening, both centres were risk assessed and Covid-19 safety training was completed.

Robert Taylor, Contract Manager at the Perdiswell facility, said: “It was a long time waiting for it over the last few months but it’s been really successful.

“To start with we looked right at the front entrance through to the café, ensuring there’s adequate space for customers to get through.

“For the changing rooms, we’ve got lots of changing cubicles available and we’ve blocked off every other cubicle to ensure social distancing.

“We also looked at the pool and how we could configure the pool to match the requirements that were set out by Swim England and the Government guidance we’ve been working on.

“Customers are really happy with the lane etiquette and the signage that we’ve got on display and the way that we’re informing them so that everybody knows what to expect before they enter the water.

“Thankfully all the customers have been fully supportive of the measures that we’ve put in.”

After every swim session there is a 30 minute clean down to ensure everyone is happy with the cleanliness of the facility.

Lane swimming and aqua aerobics were the first two activities to return in Perdiswell and the plan is to now begin work on helping swim schools to return.

However, this may not be until September for the Worcester-based centre.

“It’s so important to get children learning to swim as soon as possible so that’s the next thing,” Robert added.

“Then we’ll gradually build some of the other block bookings that we had in the pool.”

Poolside cleaning post-lockdown

Littlehampton Wave’s General Manager, Paul Douglas-Smith, says he is ‘delighted’ to have the facility back up and running.

As well as explaining the Covid-19 management steps that are in place, he also explains how the centre are helping those who may be unsure about returning.

He said: “We have the support of Arun District Council and we have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to enable us to be ready to open.

“Since the Prime Minister’s announcement, my focus and that of my team has been to get the buildings ready for our returning customers with all the necessary measures in place and we are delighted to welcome them back.

“We’ve been looking very closely at Government announcements in terms of social distancing rules and regulations and we’ve put into place things around the Swim England, UK Active, Government and NHS guidelines.

“We placed videos on our social media platforms informing customers what to do, we did walk throughs, we tried to get as much information out there as we possibly could that identified the sorts of things customers might be worrying about.”

As with Perdiswell, there is a strict cleaning routine with areas wiped down during the 15 minute breaks in between sessions, followed by a one to two hour clean of the whole facility between the morning sessions ending and the afternoon sessions starting.

Those heading to Littlehampton Wave for a dip in the pool should also arrive swim ready as changing rooms are currently unavailable.

However, those with disabilities or mobility needs are allocated a space where they can change.

Reassurance has grown

Paul added: “When customers arrive at the site they are met by a member of staff outside, they’re checked on a register, checked that they are Covid safe and they haven’t had any symptoms.

“We track and trace and process them. They are then sent in different directions in the building so that they don’t mix as large groups and they are set onto poolside where they are met by a lifeguard.

“They will change on poolside, have a pre-cleanse shower and then they are told by the lifeguard when to get in. They have their swim and the lifeguard will blow their whistle when it’s time to get out. People generally pat down, dry off and go.”

As expected, many may still be nervous about a return to the pool. Paul discusses how centres can help.

“Generally the reassurance has grown as people come in,” he said.

“I think it’s a case of the unknown, customers are not sure. We just need to let them come in, get a feel for it. It’s an evolving thing, it’s not going to stand still.

“I would say to people that if they are concerned they can contact us via various social platforms or call in.

“If they’re really unsure they can book a session to come and give it a try. We can meet and greet them and we can talk through the processes to give that reassurance.”