New Zealand Gets Its Swimming Shoal Back In The Water With No Restrictions

Lewis Clareburt
New Zealand's top charge in the pool, Lewis Clareburt, 2019 Worlds bronze medallist over 400m medley - Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/BW Media

The New Zealand swimming shoal became the first among top 50 swim nations to return to standard daily pool practise, free of COVID-19 restrictions, after the Government there confirmed that there are no new or current cases of novel-coronavirus infection in the country, writes Dave Crampton.

Competition is also now possible, though the country’s borders are still closed, meaning a ban on overseas travel and easy come-and-go for those national team members based in Australia and elsewhere.

The last new case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was confirmed 17 days ago. For the past 10 days, a lone woman aged in her 50s, who lived in Auckland, was the last person in New Zealand known to be suffering from COVID-19. On Monday, health officials said, she had reported 48 hours symptom-free and was now considered recovered. It is also 41 days since the last recorded case of community transmission.

Essentially, sport is back to normal, just a few weeks after New Zealand swimmers returned to the pool following a six-week lockdown that began in March with stay-at-home measures for all.

The lockdown kicked in just before planned trials had been due to take place for a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games since postponed until July 2021. Only gas stations, chemists and supermarkets were open at the time.  Now, restrictions have been lifted on numbers in venues, pools and pool lanes included.

From today, the country is on “Alert Level 1” the lowest of the four alert levels. Borders remain shut but for those in New Zealand there is no mandatory social/ physical distancing nor contact tracing required.  Social distancing is merely ‘encouraged”.

The New Zealand Cabinet, the Government executive, brought forward deliberations on level 1 two weeks earlier than anticipated following better-than-expected case numbers. Up until today, no more than 100 could gather in a sports venue, and that restriction led to cancellation of all national meets this year to date.  Now spectator stands can be filled again.

The swimming shoal in New Zealand may yet get to Two national meets are still on the calendar, the Secondary Schools competition in late August, and the Short Course competition in October.

New Zealand Ready For Start Up

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared at a news conference in Wellington: “We are ready.”

Ardern has drawn global headlines and praise from the World Health Organization for her government’s approach to the virus, with a strict and cautious approach that appears to have paid off. On 25 March she locked down the country for four weeks, requiring that most New Zealanders remained at home most of the time, before gradually easing restrictions.

Worldwide, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed 7 million on Monday, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who rely on official government data. The current figure stands at 7,106,010. At least 406,395 people have died in the global pandemic so far. The US is the worst-affected country, with 2,007,449 confirmed cases and more than a quarter of the world’s deaths, at 112,469, officially, as of today.

The Faroe Islands declared itself COVID-19-free on May 9, while Montenegro announced its membership of European countries in the clear, on May 25. Fiji followed on June 5, other states to have stamped out COVID-19 including Holy See, and Papua New Guinea. All have much smaller populations and infection tallies than New Zealand’s 1504 confirmed or probable cases.

Taiwan, Iceland, Cambodia, and Trinidad & Tobago each say they have fewer than 10 cases still active, while a small handful of countries – including several tiny Pacific Island states – claim to have recorded no cases of COVID-19 at all.



  1. Pia Porkola Smideberg

    Sweden has had most pools open through the crises for practise but have cancelled all competetion until fall (only club internal ones are allowed). From my understanding We have not detected any outburst of the virus during this period caused by active swimmers…

  2. Lisa Agung

    Kim Brennan Nicky Al Linda Rudzis we moving to NZ?

    • Kim Brennan

      Lisa Agung even if we wanted to, we can’t fly there yet! ?

    • Lisa Agung

      Kim Brennan just asked Kirana if he wants to go there for a meet as soon as we can fly there ????

    • Nicky Al

      Lisa Agung lets go. They normally have one in September but it would be cancelled

    • Lisa Agung

      Nicky Al we are in. Let me know when u know ??

    • Nicky Al

      Lisa Agung will do. Love NZ

  3. Rachel Decker

    Nicole Singer-Mack maybe we need to move ?

  4. Peter Yates

    This is the first time I’ve heard of a group of swimmers being referred to as a shoal…..its wack

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      It’s perfect.