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Swim England committed to getting water polo players back in competitive action

Detailed plans are being drawn up by Swim England to ensure water polo players can return to action as soon as possible.

The recognised national governing body is ‘absolutely committed to getting the game back on’ following the Government publishing the Return to Recreational Team Sport Framework.

Rachel Bayley, Swim England Head of Performance Operations, will be working with the Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group to draw up detailed guidance on how water polo can be played safely.

So far, the only team sports to be given the go-ahead to return to action are football, cricket and polo.

George Wood, Swim England Sport Development Director, said he understood the frustrations of water polo players but the guidance had to be carefully developed to ensure everyone’s safety.

He added: “The past few months have been a whirlwind and it is difficult to believe that lockdown started when we were looking forward to the climax of the British Water Polo League season.

“As we progressed through lockdown and the possibility of returning to the pools emerged, everyone at Swim England has been working tirelessly to make this happen and to enable water polo and all of our sports to enjoy the water once again.

“There have been several stages to this work – a number of which are unique to Swim England and aquatics.

“We drew up the guidance for pools in consultation with Public Health England and DCMS.

Doing everything we can

“Toby King, Chair of the Water Polo Leadership Group, sat on the Review Group overseeing this work.  We then campaigned hard for the Government to allow pools to open, without which neither water polo nor any of our sports or activities could take place.

“We know there are issues with some pools remaining closed for financial reasons meaning some clubs are not able to get back into the water just yet.

“However, we are doing everything we can to try and get those facilities the necessary support so all of our clubs and members can once again enjoy the sports they love.

“In the meantime, we are looking at the conditions by which ‘competitive recreational activity’ can take place – in particular competitive training and match play where social distancing may need to be breached in order to enable the sport to be played.

“As water polo is an indoor, contact sport, we will need to identify the mitigations that minimise Covid-19 transmission risk pre, during and post-game.

“We have consulted with other team sports and will be looking in particular at the approach of other indoor and contact sports to identify the most effective transmission risk mitigations for the guidance that we will develop.

“It then has to be signed off by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport before competitive sport can recommence.

“With the wealth of experience on the Water Polo Leadership Group and the connections with clubs and competition organisers, we will focus on developing really good, practically applicable guidance that will be submitted as swiftly as possible.

“We are absolutely committed to getting the game back on but ask everyone to remain patient for the time being and we will update you as soon as we can.”