Scottish Swimming Questions Human Cost As Pool Closures Are Announced In 11 Areas

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

Scottish Swimming has posed questions about the cost to physical and mental health after a three-week closure of pools in 11 local authority areas of Scotland was announced on Monday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that all pools, leisure centres and gyms must close from 6pm on Friday 20 November in areas that are moving into Level 4 lockdown restrictions.

All non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants, libraries and hairdressers will also close their doors in the 11 areas that have been identified in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The areas affected are: Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Stirling, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and West Lothian.

Sturgeon said:

“Our advice is that you should stay at or close to home as much as possible.

“The purpose of level 4 is to reduce interactions between people from different households as much as possible, to reduce transmission as quickly as possible.

“That means limiting work and social contacts.”

Scottish swimming July

Photo Courtesy: Scottish Swimming Twitter

Scottish Swimming wrote to Sturgeon last week and has urged its members to follow suit to underline the importance of swimming in people’s lives.

The governing body released a statement which read:

“With 90% of clubs enjoying and relying on being back in the water, Scottish Swimming asks what cost these new restrictions will have on the mental and physical health and well-being of our nation?

“Last week Scottish Swimming wrote to the First Minister and encouraged clubs to write to their own MSP to explain the vital role swimming pools play in the armoury of the nation’s health and well-being as we continue the fight against Covid-19.

“Sport plays a key part in keeping the population healthy, which is more important than ever in these troubled times.

“As the biggest participation sport in the UK with 2.9 million people taking part at least once a week, swimming is a sport that has a wide appeal to all ages, all abilities and provides a physical and mental workout.

“Staying active promotes strong mental and physical health, which is vital to help people cope during these challenging and unprecedented times.

“The unique weight-bearing properties of water and the low-impact nature of our sport means it is accessible to all and can be a lifeline for the elderly and those with serious health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease – keeping active those most at risk of Covid-19 complications.

“Swimming pools are vital social hubs that bring communities together to swim and socialise for health fitness and fun, regardless of age, gender or background. Swimming is central to family and community life as a bonding activity for parent and child or a life-line for those in need of social contact.

“Swimming is such an important life skill. Pre-Covid-19, every week in Scotland there were 100,000 children learning to be safe, confident and competent swimmers.

“And the 24,000 club members – for whom swimming is a way of life, keeping them resilient, positive and mentally strong – need a safe space to be able to practice their sport.

“Swimming pools are not just about swimming! The world of aquatics takes in artistic swimming, diving, open water, water polo and masters swimming – not to mention the first safe steps towards a whole host of outdoor water sports. Pools offer something for everyone whether it’s to enjoy, to learn or to compete.

“Swimming is a safe sport.  Since the reopening of the leisure sector – the latest UK data, measured from 25 July to 11 October – sites have seen more than 45 million visits, with an overall rate of 0.99 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 visits. This is testament to the robust guidelines in place and the work of the pool operators to ensure compliance with guidance to make pools safe environments.

“Throughout the pandemic the Scottish Government has said little about the value of sport. Sport can play its part and needs to be seen as an essential tool in the fight against the virus as well as providing a valuable contribution to the nation’s mental and physical health. But for this to happen, swimming pools need to remain open.


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