British Swimming welcomes government guidance on returning to elite sport

13 May 2020

British Swimming would like to thank the UK Government for its support as guidance was released on how Olympic and Paralympic level athletes can return to sport.

British Swimming has been working with UK Sport and many other National Governing Bodies to produce a blueprint outlining how and when elite sportsmen and women can return to training and ultimately competition.

Whilst athlete and staff health and wellbeing remain our absolute priority, it is great we are able to further our planning in anticipation for a return to training. A working group is already dissecting the government advice and guidelines, but given the unique and complex nature of the situation, we will undertake a thorough piece of planning to ensure we get this right.

As per the definition of ‘elite athletes’ in the UK Government guidance, British Swimming will announce as soon as possible the ‘elite athletes’ to which this guidance applies. For clarity, no athletes outside those named by British Swimming will be covered by this guidance, and therefore they will not be permitted to train at this point.

It is looking ever more likely that elite training centres will be able to open before club programmes, however we are liaising with our three home nation’s partners in England, Scotland and Wales on how other aquatics activity can resume.

Of the government update, British Swimming Chief Executive, Jack Buckner, said:

“Naturally I welcome this update and thank our partners at the DCMS, PHE, DHSC and UK Sport, along with our fellow National Governing Bodies, for their work on this. It’s important that now we have this guidance, we take our time to get the implementation right. Whilst this first phase of ‘returning to training’ is an important step for our elite squad of athletes across the aquatics disciplines, I understand the wider aquatics community will also be keen to get back in the water, but for now I encourage you to be patient as your time will come, in the hopefully not too distant future.”

The Prime Minister’s update confirmed that open water swimming is permitted, subject to following current social distancing rules, from Wednesday 13th May. British Swimming would however express caution if doing so, given the natural dangers of this element of the sport, not limited to cold water temperatures and the lack of lifeguards at open water venues.

It is also worth noting that each of our core sports will be working to their own timelines, such is the complexity of each individual discipline, their geographical spreads, training venues, as well as athlete health and safeguarding.

Once finalised plans are in place, British Swimming will communicate with athletes and staff first and then the general public on how it plans to return to the water.

The full guidance document can be found here.