Swim England CEO Nickerson Has Mixed Emotions After Pool Reopening Dates Are Announced

Lane Lines - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson had mixed emotions after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a ‘cautious’ re-opening of pools among a four-step plan to guide the country out of lockdown.

England has been in a national lockdown since early January but the news on Monday means that outdoor pools and lidos plus open water venues will be allowed to open from 29 March in the first wave of easing restrictions after schools resume on 8 March.

Five weeks later, from 12 April, indoor pools can reopen for individual use or within household groups.

While Nickerson welcomed the news of the two-stage reopenings, she expressed disappointment at over-18s swimmers, divers, water polo players, artistic swimmers and Masters swimmers having to wait until at least 17 May to train together once more.

Swim England

Photo Courtesy: Swim England

In a press release from Swim England, Nickerson said:

“This announcement from the Government will come as a relief to so many people who have missed swimming and aquatic activity so much – the end is finally in sight.

“We appreciate that many will have been hoping for an earlier reopening date but we understand the need to be cautious as we don’t want to end up in another lockdown in the future.

“While I’m delighted that outdoor and indoor pools can reopen at the earliest available opportunity allowed by the Government, it’s still a bitter sweet moment for our thousands and thousands of over 18 club members.

“Of course adults will be allowed to get back in the water when pools reopen but, for so many of them, it will mean they have been unable to train with their clubs for more than six months by the time the indoor restrictions on adult organised sport are eased.

“We have stressed over and over again to the Government that it needed to change this frustrating ruling so it’s extremely disappointing to see restrictions still in place for several more weeks when pools do reopen.”

She added:

“Our over 18s members have been locked out of their club pool training sessions for far too long. Club-arranged land training in groups can resume outdoors from 29 March but we appreciate it’s not a substitute for being in the water.

“That’s why we shall be urging the Government to reconsider this restriction and allow adult organised activity to take place in the second wave when indoor pools reopen.”

Organised adult activity can resume outdoors from 29 March, meaning over-18s can train with their clubs outside.

However, there are only 110 outdoor pools and lidos that are publicly accessible in England – with 78% of those in the south of the country, while more than half typically open up for business in May or June.

Jane Nickerson

Photo Courtesy: Jane Nickerson Twitter

Nickerson continued:

“We are aware that there is a north-south divide with outdoor pools.

“We have heard encouraging sounds from the operators of these outdoor facilities that some will open earlier than usual but this won’t be the case for all of them.

“Our clubs and recreational swimmers cannot simply rely on outdoor pools and lidos which is why all activity should be allowed when indoor pools can reopen on 12 April.”

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