The Soak: British Swimming Get Signal To Stay Connected With Telecoms Partner Lebara

Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

The Soak – a news-in-brief column from around the swimming world:

Wednesday 10 June

British Swimming have announced Lebara as their official telecommunications partner.

Founded in 2001, Lebara is one of Europe’s fastest-growing mobile companies and a one-year partnership has been agreed.

British Swimming CEO Jack Buckner said:

“Lebara’s passion to connect people across the world feels extremely significant in the world today, and we are delighted to join British Swimming with them through this partnership.

“Across the aquatic sport disciplines, our athletes look to provide memorable moments of achievement at the highest level, moments that can be shared in by their teammates, staff and supporters. That value of sharing moments and staying connected is also clearly central to everything Lebara do.”

Rajesh Dongre, Commercial Director of Lebara Mobile UK, said:

“Right now, it’s more important than ever to stay connected with those we love without worrying about cost or interruption to service. At Lebara, we are committed to providing our customers with SIM only plans that are good value and pocket friendly on a strong, dependable network with the highest quality of service.

“We are excited to partner with British Swimming, sharing their passion for excellence and community spirit.”

Six swimmers and divers teamed up to make a film as part of the partnership. It starred double Commonwealth champion James Wilby, four-time European gold medallist Georgia Davies, 2016 Paralympic champion Ellie RobinsonReece Dunn – winner of three golds and one silver at last year’s IPC World Championships – Grace Reid, double European diving champion, and Matty Lee, 10m bronze medallist at the 2019 worlds.


Monday 8 June

Pools and swimming programs are returning to the water in waves, some small, others larger, New Zealand declaring that sport is back on in full from today barring the ability to travel outside of the country. While New Zealand is in the happy position of having no new or active COVID-19 infections to contend with, many other countries are still in the grips of the pandemic to one degree or another.

Here’s a round-up of countries making moves back to the water this week and month.


Many pools across France are set to reopen on June 20. The start-up will be steady and include restrictions on numbers in venues and lanes, controls on common areas in facilities.

Pool operators are currently undertaking cleaning, refilling of tanks and preparing to restart plants after a lay-off of three months. Programs and teams are already making preparations, including putting in place protocols such as the use of equipment and other hygiene-led issues.

Reopening of summer pools will not all happen on one day, the rollout in regions ranging from June 20 through to July 4. While many elite swimmers are back in training, most club programs have a journey ahead of them until they reach ‘business as usual’ in terms of the full range of services normally offered, as well as the numbers of swimmers allowed in the water at any one time.

Protocols at all aquatic centres and swimming programs fall under the direction of national health department guidelines, which include one-way flows of human traffic direction, time limits and restrictions on numbers and use of certain parts of facilities. Teams are able to submit their plans and strategies to regional administrative authorities for approval.

Summer leisure pools in France are often served by a fine network of park-and-ride bus services. That public transport service to pools will not be available this summer as part of physical-distancing measures.

Great Britain

Swim England

While elite athletes are making their way back to pool training this month, 34 members of the Britain team representing the first wave of athletes permitted to return to work at performance centres, pools across in England can only start to reopen in July – and then only under a strict set of guidelines and rules on use of equipment, social distancing, human traffic flows and numbers using facilities at any one time.

Swim England’s chief executive, Jane Nickerson, has said that time spent in changing rooms will be limited, with “strict requirements on the number of people swimming at any one time”. In some instances, where pool spaces are tight, swimmers may have to arrive ready to swim and return home to shower after practice.

The finalised guidance for clubs and swimming programs will be published on June 15, Nickerson stating that protocols “will be based on scientific evidence and data from across the world – which is ever-changing – as well as being tailored to our own environment and culture.”

In Scotland, pools, almost all of them indoor, will only reopen with protocols in place once the country moves to phase three of its lockdown plan, meaning “the virus has been suppressed”. That status is not far off, now but there is no date has been set for the start of phase three. Similarly, pools in Wales will open in phase four, envisaged for August.

Meanwhile, Water UK has asked households to consider using less water due to “truly incredible surges of demand”. That advice comes with a huge upturn in the sale of paddling pools (said to be up 4,000%) because of warm early spring weather and pool closures. One aspect of the advice, however – a recommendation for “re-using paddling pool water on flower beds” – should be taken with caution, according to experts such as Prof. Vincenzo Spica: water needs to be treated if it is to be effective against COVID-19 and while there are no guarantees, several viruses known to be resistant to chlorine, it has long been established that coronaviruses can survive in water for long periods of time at temperatures between 4 and 25C, at least.

Open water swimming programs is now back on but the outdoor swimming club at the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park, which reopened briefly in May, had to be closed down again because of an “unprecedented number” new memberships and demand on waster space.


Delfina Pignatiello – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick


Argentina authorised training for Olympic athletes on Saturday and is currently working out safety protocols in readiness for a return to action of 143 sportsmen and women who were already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games suited to 2021.

Hygiene protocols are linked to the revival of elite sport, swimming programs included. President Alberto Fernández told local media:

“Olympic sport is very important for the country and we want athletes to train. That is why we defined with Matías (Lammens, the Health Minister) the protocols for our representatives to prepare in Tokyo.”

The Ministry of Health will approve in the next few hours the various protocols prepared by the federations of each sport and will define the conditions of the venues, hours and modalities of training, which must have the endorsement of the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero.

Authorized athletes must have the “Caring” app launched by the government on their mobile devices to keep their health data up-to-date and comply with the requirements established for each discipline. Guidelines include staying isolated in a place of residence and only traveling to sports venues for practice.

Among swimmers, Delfina Pignatiello, Julia Sebastián and Santiago Grassi have all pre-qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Costa Rica

In the past week, Costa Rica entered a “second phase” of reopening activities with museums, cafes and hotels allowed to open up to 50% of capacity. The provision for restaurants, gyms and swimming pools to open during the week to a quarter of capacity has now been extended to weekends and 50% of capacity.

The relaxation measures come as Costa Rica reports a total of only 1,263 cases of COVID-19, after a rise of 35 on Sunday, the Ministry of Health reported. There have been just 10 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the country.

More information on other countries will be added to this file. 


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