Friday, July 3, 2020

Back to the Water – First Steps

Last week the Scottish Government announced a number of different dates to begin to ease some of the lockdown restrictions and move into Phase 2 of their Route Map.  Welcome news with an indication from Public Health Scotland that the country is beginning to tackle the spread of the virus.

Each country across the UK is working to different guidance and clearly on different timescales, which at times can cause frustration, but we need to remain patient and positive, staying focussed on the guidance being issued by the Scottish Government.

With input from a number of groups we have developed our own Scottish Swimming Route Map for getting “Back to the Water” and shared this directly with club chairs and key partners. This is an ever changing document reflecting the latest Scottish Government advice and now sits within our newly created COVID-19 Hub that will house all of our approved guidance documents.

Back to the water plan - Phase 2

Currently we are in Phase 2 of our own Route Map, and as indicated, this marks our first step in a phased and progressive approach to getting Back to the Water for the whole sport. In line with the Scottish Government and sportscotland statement and the resumption of indoor non-contact sport for professional athletes, I’m pleased to say that with the support of the University of Stirling we have been able to agree access for a small number of performance swimmers to get back to training at the National Swimming Academy. This is a hugely important step to help inform how we can, and replicate the approach with other facilities and gradually support the opening up of pool spaces for clubs when this option becomes available, which at the moment looks like Phase 3 at the earliest of the Scottish Government Route Map.

Also within phase 2 we have produced a refreshed set of guidance for Open Water swimming that can be found in the COVID-19 Hub. As indicated in our plan, Phase 2 is about preparing for getting Back to the Water in swimming pools. We have been working for a number of weeks to develop relevant Scottish Swimming guidance for pool operators, and with the support of a range of stakeholders from across the sport, we are developing guidance and support documentation for club training and management. In addition we are developing a number of other guidance and support documents in the following areas:

  • Pool operators
  • Club management & training
  • Competition
  • People development
  • Swim schools
  • Learn to Swim

To stress though - any guidance we produce has to align to the relevant Scottish Government guidelines for the particular phase we are in and as we know we are in a rapidly changing environment with many twists and turns. As a result only approved guidance will sit on our Hub.

In shaping these documents we will share information when we can and as appropriate. We are working closely with our home nation partners and continue to work closely with a number of our committees, held club events and council and board meetings to take time to consult and listen, sharing specific documents on the way.

It’s a careful and considered approach and by working on your behalf with sportscotland and the Scottish Government we aim to have the relevant Scottish Swimming documentation in place in preparation for pools being open. We are all enthusiastic to get back in a pool but we need to remain patient while we seek government approval.

Looking towards Phase 3

Pool operators are key to our return and in working closely with Local Authorities/Leisure Trusts over a number of weeks, it is clear that the opening of pools will be gradual, phased over a period of time, and based on a number of considerations including:

  1. Health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers
  2. Financial viability
  3. Staffing
  4. Availability, programming and accessibility of venue/facility

It will inevitably mean that capacity across the estate will be reduced for a period of time. As a result we have been working on your behalf with pool operators to understand where, when and how pools will open and along with the information returned from the club surveys, we aim to work with you to facilitate discussions with operators to ease our return back to the water.

Finally, there are a number of external companies that have helped clubs during this time by providing their services for free to hundreds of members in keeping us healthy, safe and motivated. A fantastic gesture and as an aquatics community we should offer a large thank you for all of this support. The future is beginning to look a little brighter but we need to stay patient for a little longer.

Stay Safe. Protect Others. Save Lives