The Welsh Government has given the go-ahead for elite athletes to return to training. The announcement came yesterday, prompting Swim Wales to release a statement as to which athletes will be permitted to return to training and when.
Their plan consists of ‘cohorts’, which will see swimmers “who will be representing Wales at the highest level” returning to training first in cohort 1. The statement added that this is “to ensure the highest number qualifying for the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games”.
The designated training venue has not yet been announced, although Swim Wales has said they have been in talks with various facilities to “identify the best possible venue”. Those athletes identified in the first cohort will be contacted over the coming days with more information regarding their return. The criteria for cohort 1 are:
- Represented Great Britain at the 2019 World Championships or World Para Championships.
- Represented Great Britain at the 2018 European Championships or European Para Championships
- Selected to the British Swimming or British Para Swimming World Class Programme in 2019/20.
- Realistic Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic 2021 qualification opportunity – within 2% of estimated Olympic/Paralympic qualification performance level (based on long course performances since 1st January 2018).
- Represented Great Britain at the 2018 and/or 2019 European Junior or World Junior Championships and qualified for an individual final at either of those championships
No names of swimmers returning in cohort 1 of the Welsh plan have been released yet. Various Welsh athletes who represented Team GB at the World Championships last year include Alys Thomas, Georgia Davies, Dan Jervis and Calum Jarvis. At the 2018 European Championships the previous year, Kat Greenslade and Chloe Tutton joined Team GB as Welsh representatives as well.
Davies was part of the 4x100m mixed medley relay which claimed bronze at the World Championships in Gwangju last year. Thomas finished 5th in the 200m butterfly in a time of 2:07.48.
Swim Wales detailed criteria for a second cohort which will considered “if and when facility capacity, and medical provision capacity as determined by Sport Wales, can be increased”. This is:
- Any athletes meeting the Cohort 1 eligibility criteria unable to return to training due to prioritisation relating to facility and/or medical capacity
- Realistic Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games qualification opportunity – within 3% of estimated Swim Wales Commonwealth nomination performance level (based on long course performances since 1st January 2018).
The statement added: “For clarity, no athletes outside those named by Swim Wales will be covered by this guidance, and therefore they will not be permitted to train at this point. In addition, eligible athletes will only be able to train at the designated venue under sessions operated by Swim Wales staff.”
British Swimming announced late last month that 32 international athletes would be cleared to return to training as part of National Performance Centers at Loughborough University and University of Bath. Scotland has not yet allowed for a return to training in indoor training centers, although outdoor swimming was allowed beginning May 29 (there are not many outdoor lap pools in Scotland, because of climate).
According to New York Times tracking, Wales has seen just over 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus with nearly 1,500 deaths among 3.1 million population.