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Swim Wales Update on Aquatic Activities & Swimming Pools

Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming , Water Polo, Education
National, Performance

Dear Club Chairs, Member Clubs, Swim Schools and recreational swimmers.

I want to take this opportunity to provide you with an update in respect of the awaited guidance from Welsh Government.

As with previous changes to restrictions and amendments to regulation that we have seen over the last few months, there is usually a more detailed guidance document to accompany the regulation itself. Unfortunately, in this instance there is a delay in the publication. Swim Wales have been talking directly with the Sports Policy Unit at Welsh Government and we are expecting this next week.

Swim Wales will continue to work on your behalf to ensure that not only do we have clear guidance to carry on planning for club activity, club training, swimming lessons and recreational swims but that the guidance means that we can do this effectively and safely. In the absence of guidance, we have put together our own recommendations to you, which are based on discussions we have had with Welsh Government this week.

Please liaise with your pool operators on their operating procedures and consider consulting the free legal helpline that you have available to you through your Swim Wales affiliation. The contact number is as follows 0330 100 7901

1. Room Capacity of 30

Regulation 12 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 has been updated to release indoor exercise from the Act but only for groups of up to 30.

The guidance associated with this announcement states:

“Exercise with others in a gathering of no more than 30 people at a fitness studio, gym, swimming pool, other indoor leisure centre or facility or any other open premises”.

We have spoken to Welsh Government who have confirmed that the 30 limit, is per room (not a whole leisure centre) it is the absolute maximum to be allowed to exercise together in a well ventilated space, as long as the space is large enough to accommodate a maximum of 30 whilst adhering to the 2m social distance regulation.

 2.Children Aged 11 and Under

The announcement from the First Minister that children aged 11 and under no longer have to social distance, where it is not practical for them to do so, was welcomed by the sport and leisure sector.

However, we have been advised by Welsh Government that for indoor settings, children 11 and under should still be encouraged to comply with the 2m social distance regulation. 

The guidance associated with this announcement says:

"In circumstances where young children mix with others, it may not be practical to attempt to maintain continual 2 metre distancing (between children, or even between children and adults). This is in part because it is harder for younger children to understand the concept of physical distancing, and in part because appropriate support from carers will often require closer contact.

For young children (those of primary school age or younger), it is in any case less essential to attempt to rigidly maintain continual 2 metre distance between them, or between the children and any adults outside their household or extended household. Studies have found that young children are less likely to transmit the virus, whether to other children or to adults, and the virus appears to take a milder course in children than in adults for most cases.

However as young children can still transmit the virus, parents of young children should still exercise their good judgement and take care, especially to encourage their children to follow hand hygiene measures and keep close contact to a minimum where possible”.

We have discussed this with Welsh Government and their position on this will not change ahead of the next review.

We fully appreciate that the guidance detailed above may cause challenges for some facilities, clubs and schools. Swim Wales will continue to work with Welsh Government directly. We will also continue to work with the WSA Return to Sport groups and our facility partners to strongly urge Welsh Government to reconsider their position in a number of areas at the next review, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday 20th August, ahead of the First Ministers Announcement on Friday 21st August.

Our recommendations will include firstly, the removal of the upper limit of 30 per room and adopt the formula developed by UK Active, in that a room’s upper limit is calculated on a floor space of 100ft² per person and secondly to permit providers of sport and exercise for children 11 and under to breach the social distance regulation, in line with the Government guidance in a supervised environment.

The road to a return to aquatics activity and sport in Wales has been a long one but I can guarantee you that both myself and the team at Swim Wales are leading from the front and have your interests at the forefront of our minds.


Fergus Feeney

CEO, Swim Wales