When the summer temperatures are rising, nothing is more refreshing than a swim.
So we all rejoiced at the news that indoor pools, gyms and leisure centres can finally reopen on 25 July. While some may be anxious post-lockdown, Swim England, the official government body, have issued strict guidelines for leisure facilities to ensure that everyone can safely enjoy swimming.
So what would swimming with the family look like? And what are the safety measures in place to stick to? Dive in.
Book Before You Go
Many swimming facilities require you to pre-book a time slot to reduce numbers and overcrowding. Make sure you check the website for timetables before turning up. You don’t want to risk being turned away and have disappointed kids!
Poolside Safety Measures
Don’t go to the pool if you or members of your family show any symptoms associated with coronavirus (or any other virus for that matter). To minimise the risk of transmission, it is advised not to go swimming at all if you have a persistent cough, temperature or loss of taste and/or smell.
Get ‘Pool Prepared’ At Home
Although changing facilities will be available, it is recommended to arrive ‘beach ready’ to reduce the time spent in changing areas. This means that adults and children should wear their swim costume/trunks under their clothes so that they’re half-ready to jump in. This will also reduce waiting times and gatherings.
Strict hygiene measures are in place, and it’s advised to shower at home before and after your swim. Shower facilities at the pool may be limited, and another place where infection can be transmitted. Once you have finished your swim, you need to leave the venue swiftly to avoid congestion.
Swim Fun Equipment
It is recommended that you bring your own equipment, such as floats, rubber rings or kickboards to aid young children. Ensure they are clean and identifiable/labelled as yours before you arrive, and don’t forget to pack your hand sanitiser.
Socially Distance Your Swim
Every swimming pool will have its own measures in place, so it’s important to follow the rules. Your pool might have specific slot times to ensure social distancing is met and to keep the numbers down.
While it may be difficult for young children, swimmers are encouraged to maintain appropriate social distance between themselves and others in the pool.
Swimmers must follow the directional signs on display, and keep moving in a clockwise direction or move to the appropriate side for each length.
For older children or adults, lanes could also be limited to reduce congestion. It’s advised you choose your lane using the fast, medium and slow signs, and by observing swimmers in the water. Be mindful about your speed during laps, checking to see if anyone is approaching. Do not overtake.
If you change to a slower stroke, consider moving lanes to avoid faster swimmers. Swimmers are encouraged to move closer to the edge of their lane while resting and keep their distance from others.
If your child is taking part in a swimming lesson with other kids, guidelines say the teacher or coach must deliver lessons from the poolside only. Again, social distancing will be in place with sufficient gaps between classes to prevent numbers from building up in changing areas or around the poolside.
Although it is recommended you bring your child’s own floats and other swim equipment, any shared equipment will be sanitised after each use.
While outdoor pools, wild swims and lidos were given the green light to reopen from 11 July 2020, some have remained closed until further guidance. However, with summer holidays here and government guidelines in place, many should be welcoming swimmers over the coming months.
Lidos are essentially public outdoor/open-air swimming pools. Visitors can choose to either swim, or relax in the sun with a good read. Unlike indoor swimming pools, lidos are seasonal and a popular day out for the family in summer. They usually offer basic changing room facilities. Lidos can either have membership passes or you can pay a non-members fee.
Where Can I Find A Lido?
There are over 100 open-air lidos and outdoor pools around the country.
Popular London lidos include Brockwell Lido, located in South London, that hosts an Olympic-sized mega-pool and other leisure facilities. London Fields Lido in Hackney also has a 50-metre heated pool, while Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park is the most central. Pools on the Park in Richmond features both an indoor and outdoor pool for those summer evenings. If you want to venture outside of London, there are also great lidos in East Sussex, Brighton, Oxford, and Leeds, among others. As always, it’s best to check their websites to find out opening times and Covid-19 guidelines before you make the journey.
Swimming Pool Safety
It’s understandable many will be worried about water safety measures. And in all cases, risk assessments and risk management must be first carried out. Swim England states that water used in both indoor and outdoor pools will have to pass a microbiological test before the pool can reopen. Gradual heating and the use of chlorine will inactivate most viruses. Any equipment used in pools will be deep cleaned between use, although it is advisable for visitors to bring their own equipment.
The main thing is to enjoy yourselves! But if you have other concerns, please refer to Swim England online for further updates.
Cynthia Lawrence is a freelance lifestyle journalist for national magazines. She lives in London with her 9-year-old son and hubby, and also has an unhealthy obsession for homes and interiors. She loves taking inspiration from her fabulous family travels and exciting adventures.