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23 Jun 2020

Swimming faces 'a new normal' – guidance published for the reopening of UK pools
BY Tom Walker

As an exact date for pools to reopen has yet to be confirmed, the guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and government guidelines

As an exact date for pools to reopen has yet to be confirmed, the guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and government guidelines
photo: Shutterstock.com/wavebreakmedia

Swimming pool users will have to adapt to a ‘new normal’ to ensure the safety of everyone visiting and working at the UK's pool facilities – according to guidance published by Swim England.

The Returning to the Pool guidance,, is spread across five detailed documents and includes recommendations for operators, swimmers, family-fun sessions, clubs and swimming teachers.

The guidance for users includes the recommendation for everyone attending a pool to carry hand sanitiser at all times and for all swimmers to arrive at the pool ready for swim – and to shower at home after their swimming session (rather than at the pool).

For clubs, there is a recommendation to consider double-width lanes for all lane-swimming sessions and allowing sufficient time between squads for cleaning.

Perhaps the most comprehensive guidance is held in the document aimed for operators, which covers everything from risk assessments, social distancing and setting up access routes to signage and adjustments to heating/cooling and ventilation systems.

In the absence of an exact date for pools to reopen, following today's government briefing (23 June), the guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and government guidelines – and will be updated to reflect any changes announced in the future. The guides were developed in consultation with Public Health England, Sport England, operators, industry body ukactive and a number of other stakeholders.

"This guidance will help ensure the safe return to the water once swimming pools are allowed to open again," said Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson.

“When pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different.

“Our first priority remains the safety of everyone involved in our sports, be they participants, leisure centre staff, coaches or volunteers.

“While the guidance contains vital information on how to reopen facilities, unfortunately, it doesn’t include the key date on when pools can open.

“We will continue to lobby the Government for a reopening date but, ultimately, we have to be guided by them on this.

“This is a living, breathing document that will be regularly updated but we hope it gives our members, clubs, teachers, coaches, swim schools and pool operators the clarity they need to move forward together as a sector – safely and confidently.”

• To download and access the guidance, click here

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