When our High-Level International Meets list for the month of February was published late last month, several readers questioned whether the Manchester International Swim Meet, slated for February 12th-14th would indeed proceed.
Meet organizers have confirmed today that the meet has been given the green light, albeit with several changes having to be implemented from years past.
Much of the United Kingdom has been under national-level lockdowns, with only elite athletes able to train at this time. Following the government’s COVID-19 protocols, the meet will be restricted to these elite athletes only. Specifically for England, only those athletes on the government-approved Elite Athlete Return to Training lists are permitted to compete, with the competition run under the corresponding DCMS guidelines.
The approach to producing the meet is much akin to the International Swimming League (ISL) bubble in Budapest. British Swimming, Manchester City Council, GLL and The City of Manchester Swim Team (COMAST) have collaborated to ensure that traffic flow, athlete confinement outside of competition and social distancing rules are followed and guidelines are adhered to throughout the competition.
Expected competitors include Adam Peaty, James Wilby and Luke Greenbank, with these three already having been named the Tokyo Olympic team. Paralympic champions Ellie Simmonds and Ellie Robinson are also expected to compete.
On the announcement, Jack Buckner, British Swimming Chief Executive, said “We are very grateful to Manchester for their hard work to allow this event to happen during such difficult times for the whole country, including our aquatics community. With the Olympic and Paralympic Games drawing ever closer, our swimmers need competition opportunities. The Manchester event will provide that, as other nations also return to elite competition. However, the health and safety of all involved, from athletes right through to volunteers, is our absolute priority, and we are confident that the measures we have put in place are extremely robust and will keep everyone as safe as possible.
“We acknowledge that as the British governing body for aquatics, we are in an extremely privileged position to be able to continue with our activity during this lockdown, whilst observing all the COVID regulations. This elite-only meet is key for us if we are to achieve our ambitions in Tokyo. Our thoughts are also with the wider aquatics community and we shall support all of the Home Nations’ efforts to return to the water as soon as permitted.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills for the City of Manchester, added:
“This event will be held safely behind closed doors observing all the correct COVID-safe protocols, and we are totally supportive of British Swimming’s efforts to help the athletes’ critical preparations for the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo later this year.”