Swimming can be hugely beneficial for both your physical and mental health – and if you’re usually a regular at the pool, you’ve probably felt the closure of gyms and leisure centres keenly.
So now, as high street stores begin to reopen and the flexibility around social gatherings gradually relaxes, there are glimpses of our former lives re-emerging – so what does that mean for returning to the lanes?
Swim England has released a comprehensive new report, Returning to The Pool, which outlines the key changes that will need to be made in order for swimming pools to reopen safely and with appropriate precautions.
‘We have all been missing the water during the Covid-19 enforced closure of swimming pools,’ says Jane Nickerson, the organisation’s chief executive.
‘When pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different, but 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”.’
When will swimming pools reopen?
As of yet there are no confirmed dates for gyms or swimming pools to reopen in the UK.
‘Government guidance clearly states that pools in England cannot reopen before 4 July and it is still unknown whether that will be the date that this happens – that is a decision for the government,’ Nickerson explains.
July 4 is the earliest feasible date that pools could possibly reopen – however, it is possible that the delay will be even longer as individual outlets create their guidelines to keep swimmers and staff as safe as possible.
What will the new swimming rules be after lockdown?
The advice laid out in the Returning to the Pool report offers a clear breakdown of what you should do before, during and after your swim.
Before your swim
Some operators may introduce pre-booking systems to reduce crowding and ensure a reasonable number of people in the pool at one time. Check with your local pool and book a slot with availability before you visit.
In order to minimise the time spent in changing rooms, you should arrive in your swimwear under your clothing. It’s also advised that you shower at home pre and post swim, even if showers are open at your local facility.
During your swim
If you require any equipment or flotation aids, these should be brought with you, rather than borrowed at the pool. You should follow the pool’s guidance on social distancing, direction of travel and other risk control measures, and keep appropriate distance between yourself and the swimmers around you at all times.
‘Choose your lane using the fast, medium and slow signs and by watching those already swimming,’ the report recommends. ‘Do not overtake whilst swimming. Before pushing off at each turn, check to see if anyone faster is approaching.
‘Wide strokes such as butterfly should be avoided when the lanes become busy. If you change to a slower stroke as part of your session, think about moving lanes.’
It’s recommended that clubs should consider double width lanes when setting up for lane swimming. If you need to rest, you should ‘keep yourself to the edge of the lane allowing others to turn at the wall, turning head away and allowing others to maintain social distancing measures.’
After your swim
Again, it’s suggested that you should spend as little time in the changing rooms as you can, and shower at home if at all possible. Use hand sanitiser/wash stations wherever they are made available.
Is it safe to go swimming?
After consulting with Public Health England previously, the The Pool Water Treatment and Advisory Group said: ‘We have checked with our national leads who confirm that coronavirus would be inactivated at the levels of chlorine used in swimming pools.’
‘However, visitors to swimming pools are reminded to shower before using the pool, to shower on leaving the pool and to follow the necessary hygiene precautions when visiting public places to help reduce the risk of infection.’