Adam Peaty Among Olympic And World Medallists To Back Swim England Campaign To Reopen Pools

adam peaty
Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Adam Peaty, James Guy and James Wilby are among the international elite who are backing Swim England’s #OpenOurPools campaign after the easing of lockdown restrictions in England did not include the reopening of pools.

The trio were among hundreds who backed the campaign online within minutes of its launch as well as former double Olympic champion Becky Adlington, 2004 Athens bronze medallist Steve Parry and British Swimming chief executive Jack Buckner.

Commonwealth 400IM champion Aimee Willmott and world 4×100 medley relay champion Luke Greenbank, Tully Kearney, who won triple gold in the S5 50, 100 and 200 free at last year’s World Para Swimming Championships in London, and Ellie Robinson – S6 50 fly champion at Rio 2016 – were also quick to add their voices.

Alan Bircher, coach at Ellesmere Titans and former guide of Freya Anderson before her recent move to the National Centre Bath, included Marcus Rashford in his tweet following the Manchester United and England footballer’s successful fight for disadvantaged children to get free school meals throughout the summer.

Even Matthew Pinsent, four-time Olympic rowing champion, questioned the decision, describing it as “pretty weird”.

Chief executive Jane Nickerson expressed her “dismay and frustration” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for pubs, restaurants, hair salons, cinemas and museums to open for business once again from 4 July.

Neither does it escape notice that Johnson made the announcement on Olympic Day, eight years after he enjoyed the glow of success of London 2012 as the capital’s mayor.

Many had hoped and believed that swimming pools would also reopen from that date but their omission has resulted in the governing body starting a campaign to urge the Government to reconsider.

They have asked people to apply pressure by writing to their MP (Member of Parliament), posting on social media, sharing infographics and signing a petition.

Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Peaty said in an online post:

Adlington – who spoke in recent days of how her five-year-old daughter Summer is hankering after a return to the pool – added:

Wilby – who won 100m silver behind Peaty at last year’s World Championships – described the decision as “crazy”, saying:

Guy – double Olympic silver medallist – added:

Kearney said:

Nickerson said:

“By ignoring the swimming sector in the latest easing of lockdown, the Government has let down millions who rely on being in the water – from those who use pools for mental or physical health reasons, to our recreational swimmers and competitive club athletes.

“Thousands of workers in the sector and facilities across the country are also still in a state of limbo and this is simply unacceptable.

“Many will fail to understand how pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and hair salons have been given the go ahead to open on the 4 July but not chlorine-filled swimming pools.”

She added:

“I share their frustrations and demand that the Government hastily reconsiders this decision to ignore what is a lifeline to so many.”

“It appears that it is okay to sit on the couch watching professional sport, go out for a high calorie meal and then go to the pub but you can’t go for a swim, which provides a sanitised environment.”

The announcement comes eight days after Swim England issued its five key Pool Reopening Guidelines to clubs, teachers, those running and attending lessons, pool operators and users.

However, now it is unclear as to when those guidelines can be applied and there are countless potential ramifications from the continued closure of pools for physical and mental wellbeing with Swim England revealing last year that aquatic activity helps to save the health and social care system more than £357 million a year.

So too is swimming a vital life skill for young and old and at present many people are taking to doing open water in rivers, lakes and reservoirs despite not being accustomed to the vastly different conditions, compounded by the lack of lifeguards.

Nickerson did not mince her words, saying:

“If pools cannot open from the 4 July, the Government is jeopardising the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people, preventing a generation of children from learning to swim and enabling them to have fun in, on and around water – as well as halting the future of potential Olympic champions.”

Full statement from Jane Nickerson, Swim England:

“By ignoring the swimming sector in the latest easing of lockdown, the Government has let down millions who rely on being in the water – from those who use pools for mental or physical health reasons, to our recreational swimmers and competitive club athletes.

“Thousands of workers in the sector and facilities across the country are also still in a state of limbo and this is simply unacceptable.

“Many will fail to understand how pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and hair salons have been given the go ahead to open on the 4 July but not chlorine-filled swimming pools.

Benefiting the health of the nation

“I share their frustrations and demand that the Government hastily reconsiders this decision to ignore what is a lifeline to so many.”

“It appears that it is okay to sit on the couch watching professional sport, go out for a high calorie meal and then go to the pub but you can’t go for a swim, which provides a sanitised environment.”

“I am dismayed that an activity which plays a major role in benefiting the health of the nation has been overlooked at a time when it is probably needed more so than ever before.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has rightly championed the importance of physical activity for people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“Therefore it is particularly frustrating to see swimming pools and leisure centres neglected in this way.

Missing out on vital life skill

“Our detailed Returning to the Pool guidance has shown that pools can operate a controlled Covid-19 safe way.

“However, we have been stressing to the Government that facilities need at least two weeks to be able to prepare for reopening so it’s deeply frustrating these pleas haven’t been listened to.

“Being in the water can be incredibly fun for people of all ages but it’s so important that youngsters have learned the necessary skills to ensure they are safe in and around water and know what to do in an emergency.

“While pools remain shut, this simply doesn’t happen and we can’t afford the next generation to miss out on this vital life skill.

“The longer facilities remain closed, the increased chance many of them won’t be able to afford to reopen.

“We have already called for the Government to provide urgent financial support to the sector otherwise we risk losing hundreds of pools which will deprive millions of people of the ability to enjoy all the benefits of being active in the water.

“It’s time the Government did the right thing for the leisure industry and the health of the nation by reopening pools and we’re keen to work closely with them to ensure this happens sooner rather than later.

“If pools cannot open from the 4 July, the Government is jeopardising the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people, preventing a generation of children from learning to swim and enabling them to have fun in, on and around water – as well as halting the future of potential Olympic champions.”


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