Prime Minister Issues Dates for Re-Opening of British Pools

by Lydia Ferrari Kehoe 0

February 23rd, 2021 Britain, International, News

A return to swimming is well and truly on the horizon for UK residents after an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this afternoon.

Addressing the House of Commons, a four-stage ‘roadmap’ was outlined by the British head-of-state including dates for when swimming pools are to reopen.

The staggered timeline means that certain groups will be allowed to resume group training sessions before others, although access to both indoor and outdoor facilities will happen at the same time for everyone.

Here are the important dates:

  • March 29th: All outdoor swimming – pools, lidos, reservoirs, and other open water venues – to reopen
  • April 12th: Indoor swimming pools to reopen, but only for individual use, under 18’s club training sessions, and visits by household groups
  • May 17th: Over 18’s allowed to resume club training activity

Similar to the second national lockdown in November 2020 and the tier system that followed, these dates mean that over 18’s won’t be able to train with their clubs until May 17th at the earliest.

At present, there is an elite return to training list of athletes who have been approved to resume training based on a number of performance criteria. This means athletes, such as those who competed at the recent Manchester International Swim Meet, have been able to train since roughly the end of last summer.

The Prime Minister has been explicit with his messaging today, saying to MP’s that the plan is aimed at being “cautious but irreversible”.

There is also a new slogan at the forefront of this announcement, “Data Not Dates”, which reinforces the fact that the Government will have to be satisfied with progress in order to move to the next stage of the plan.

This will come in the form of four reviews before the beginning of each stage, analysing testing, vaccine numbers, infection rates, and the presence of possible new variants.

Theoretically, this means that these dates are not set in stone and to use their own words – if the Government is not happy with the data, the dates will change.

Return to Competition

A glimmer of normality arrived last weekend as we saw a return to competitive action in England after almost a year without a start-whistle sounding in the nation.

The Manchester International Swim Meet featured roughly a hundred of the country’s elite, including Adam Peaty, James Guy, Freya Anderson, Abbie Wood, Luke Greenbank, Georgia Davies, Molly Renshaw, and James Wilby.

Some standout performances came in the form of Peaty’s #3 world-ranked time this year of 58.82, Wood’s huge personal best of 2:09.38 in the 200IM – making her the #2 British woman of all time in that event, Renshaw’s matching of the British Record in the 200m breaststroke (2:22.08), and Greenbank’s throw down of a 1:56.33 in the 200m backstroke, positioning him at #4 in the world so far in 2021.

Swim England chief executive, Jane Nickerson – who received her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine this month – has tweeted some updates to help clarify the Government’s announcement and what it means for the aquatics community in England.

 

Olympic Trials

Currently slated for April 12th-14th 2021 and a full year after originally scheduled, the British Swimming Championships are likely to be affected by this announcement.

British Swimming issued an update on February 10th which recognised the impending announcement this week and that the “format, size and scale” of the meet will be decided upon within “the context of UK Government and Public Health England guidelines.”

They added: “As we continue to proceed with optimistic plans for a 2021 British Championships, we are acutely aware that the ability to train and compete is not a priority for many at the current time, and for others not a possibility with current lockdown measures in place.”

The same announcement also detailed some changes to the usual format of the meet, including a longer qualifying period – back to March 1st 2019 – more inclusive senior qualifying times, and an introduction of junior qualifying times.

As of yet, British Swimming has not issued an update on the meet. British Swimming‘s full update on the competition from February 10th can be found here.

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