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Swim England update resources to further improve inclusion within swimming

Swim England is launching updates to two resources which will help to further improve inclusion within swimming.

The national governing body’s ‘Certificate of Exception’ is the first of the two resources and is an update of the previously named ‘Certificate of Swimming Disability’.

The certificate was initially created to enable disabled swimmers to participate in competition without being penalised for rule infractions beyond their control.

This was particularly relevant to swimmers who could not, or did not, want to have a para-swimming classification.

Whilst uptake was positive, it was recognised that the application process may be a barrier for some and there may be potential to expand its use.

Therefore, the following changes were proposed and subsequently agreed:

  • The removal of the need for medical evidence when submitting the application form for the certificate. This has been replaced with a simple co-signatory process. The form can be countersigned by a fellow club member such as a coach.
  • The extension of the certificate to include a ‘swimwear exception’. This will enable competitors to wear swimwear outside of the standard regulations whilst also ensuring compliance with FINA regulations in relation to swimwear.

Mike Hawkes, Swim England’s inclusion partner, said: “We know the certificate is a great way to enable disabled swimmers to access our swimming competitions and wanted to ensure this was available to as many people as possible.

“The introduction of a swimwear exception is an exciting development. We’ve listened to feedback about swimming costumes being a barrier to competition and believe that this update will remove those barriers for many competitors and participants.”

Although the certificate update has now been officially launched, current holders will be able to use their existing certificate until the expiry date, at which point a renewal application will need to be made via the updated process.

A range of guidance has also been produced to help members, clubs and officials to further understand the new certificate. To view and download the relevant guidance, please click here.

Updated swimwear guidance

Alongside the certificate, steps have also been taken to update Swim England’s swimwear guidance to include reference to period wear for the first time.

This guidance is currently applicable to swimming only and Claire Coleman, Swim England head of development, was happy to support the updates.

She said: “We welcomed the opportunity to revise and update current policies as a way of ensuring swimming is as accessible as possible.

“These changes ensure Swim England is addressing current and relevant issues head on. Ultimately, we want to make participating and competing easier for swimmers.

“We look forward to the impact it will have on our members and achieving a nation swimming.”

The updated guidance for appropriate swimwear can be found here. To request any support in this area, please contact Mike Hawkes via equality@swimming.org.

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