Swimming pool users will have to adapt to a ‘new normal’ to ensure the safety of everyone visiting and working at facilities, according to guidance published by Swim England.
The recognised national governing body has issued its Returning to the Pool advice ahead of the Government giving the green light for a return to the water.
Included in the five detailed documents are robust recommendations for operators, casual swimmers, lane swimming, family-fun sessions, club activity, teachers and those attending swimming lessons.
The guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines and will be updated to reflect any changes announced in the future.
It has been developed following lengthy consultation with Public Health England, Sport England, leisure operators, home country partners and a panel of representatives from clubs, swim schools, volunteers and other key stakeholders across the country, including medical professionals.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, thanked everyone who had contributed to the in-depth guidance.
She said: “We have all been missing the water during the Covid-19 enforced closure of swimming pools.
“Swim England is therefore delighted to be able to produce this guidance to help ensure the safe return to the water once swimming pools are allowed to open again.
“Our first priority remains the safety of everyone involved in our sports, be they participants, leisure centre staff, coaches or volunteers.
“When pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different.
“However, if we are to play our part in protecting the NHS from another wave of Covid-19 admissions, it is important we follow the latest guidance and adjust to the new ‘normal’.
“This guidance has been produced in collaboration with experts from across the sector and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its creation.”
Jane added that the decision to reopen pools rests with the Government – and even when date is announced, some facilities might not be open immediately.
She said: “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.
“There has been plenty of Covid-19 guidance produced but we have not simply followed other country’s leads on this. Our dedicated staff have worked tirelessly to create robust recommendations that are fit for purpose and cover all aspects of aquatic activity.
“It’s 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.”
The Swim England guidance specifically covers the use of the pool.
All advice around leisure centre’s wider space – such as reception and changing rooms – will be issued by the Government at a later date.