Ireland has seen tougher restrictions being introduced in the last number of days which have impacted the aquatics community once again.
Enhanced Level 3 restrictions (Level 3 Plus) have been reintroduced across the entire country, with Level 4 coming into place in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan.
As well as this, the rest of Northern Ireland has gone into a ‘circuit-break’ lockdown for a period of 4 weeks, which prohibits indoor sport other than at elite level. A ‘circuit-break’ lockdown means harsh measures are introduced for a number of weeks in a bid to interrupt the increase of cases and allow for a long term plan to be put in place.
It looks like under both Levels 3 and 4, elite/high-performance swimming can continue as before – with the presence of safety measures as before such as social distancing and each athlete having an assigned resting point in the lane.
However, certain water-based activities, such as water polo and swimming lessons have been affected once again.
Below are the main points from an updated document Swim Ireland released today:
Level 3 Plus
- Swimming lessons ARE permitted, but only in a 1-1 format – no group lessons.
- Elite training can continue with protective measures in place
- Water Polo Division 1 and Division 2 Leagues which were due to commence next weekend can no longer go ahead
- Water polo sessions are now to be carried out as non-contact – Swim Ireland are seeking clarification on this
- Pool facilities closed
- Elite training can continue out of the Bangor Aurora pool as a ‘performance hub’ only and with only 2 athletes per lane (Northern Ireland)
- Elite training can continue out of the National Centre Dublin and National Centre Limerick (Republic of Ireland)
- Facilities closed for water polo, diving and other swimming clubs
- No competitions allowed
- No swimming lessons
Circuit-Breaker Lockdown (Northern Ireland)
- Majority of pools remain open, however, club sessions (swimming and water polo) cannot taken place from today, October 16th, for a period of 4 weeks
- Individual bookings for swimming is permitted – Swim Ireland / Ulster have made representation to the NI Executive to allow Clubs to return to Coach led Club activities under Swim Ireland protocols.
- 1-1 teaching allowed, but no group lessons
- Athletes who are deemed “Elite” under the Sport NI description of “Elite Athlete” are permitted to continue with coach led training within their own pool. Letters of dispensation have been circulated to all clubs who have athletes who are within this category.
The athletes that fall under the ‘elite’ bracket are those who are a part of the following groups/squads:
- National Centre Performance Squads (Tier 1)
- National Centre Performance Pathway Squads (Tier 2)
- National Squad Athletes
- 2021 Olympic/Paralympic Long List Athletes
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has today advised that the entire country be moved into Level 5 restrictions for 6 weeks. They advised this 2 weeks ago, but the suggestion was rejected by the Government who instead moved forward with Level 3 nationwide and Level 4 in certain counties.
It is expected that more news of any further restrictions will be announced on Monday/Tuesday next week. If that is the case, water-based sports will undoubtedly be hit with more challenges.