British Swimming Elite Athlete Return to Training Advisory

26 May 2020

The Performance Leadership Group (PLG) of British Swimming’s World Class Performance Programme would like to advise that elite athletes have been identified for return to training under the recently published ‘Elite sport return to training guidance: Step One’ by DCMS (ESRTT).  

In coming to these decisions the PLG, in consultation with our home nation performance leads, have been mindful of the UK government advice to start small, get the environments right, then expand carefully as and when appropriate.

In the ESRTT Guidance we are also being asked, as national governing bodies (NGBs) of sports, to monitor and approve daily training environments via the appointment of a NGB ‘Covid-19 Officer’ and a NGB ‘Covid-19 Medical Officer’. The intention here is that these two aspects of the ESRTT Guidance will work in tandem to ensure best practice in both (a) athlete health and wellbeing management, and (b) venue management to effectively minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission in approved daily training environments (in collaboration with our venue partners).

Under the ESRTT Guidance definitions (listed below in italics), the PLG has considered the following groups would be eligible to return to training from a swimming perspective

1. ‘A senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body’:

i) Athletes selected for the British Senior 2019 World Championship pool team (long course)
ii) Marathon athletes that have been selected to participate in the Tokyo Olympic qualifier in May 2021 (10km open water)

2. ‘A member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body’:

i) Athletes selected for the 2017 British Senior World Championship pool team (long course)
ii) Athletes selected for the 2018 British Senior European Championship pool team (long course)
iii) Athletes who are on a trajectory to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics according to their current Performance Dashboard

3. ‘Aged 16 or above on an elite development pathway as established by the national governing body (on a trajectory to compete in an Olympic or Paralympic Games)’:

i) Athletes on the current World Class Performance Programme
ii) Athletes swimming in British Swimming National Centres

Each athlete and their coach have been contacted to advise that they are on this ‘elite athlete training group’ list and discussions are now under way in order for us to ascertain which athletes would like to take up the invitation to return to train. To help manage expectations, we anticipate that phase one will comprise 32 places across these two centres. Therefore, we ask identified athletes and coaches to be patient as we move through the ‘phasing’ process. Our plan is to extend capacity for the remainder of the identified athletes as soon as practically possible.

The PLG is also aware that in some parts of the UK, lockdown, travel and social distancing rules may be different. Therefore, some athletes may still not be eligible to train unless these restrictions are relaxed, even though they appear on this list.  Equally, not all athletes on this list will be able to train in the first phase, due to social distancing guidelines and our ability to effectively manage each daily training environment. In this first phase, it makes sense that we work with our existing partners at Loughborough University and the University of Bath, as they are part of the English Institute of Sport elite training centre network and have been part of our early discussions.

In parallel with these consultations, British Swimming is currently preparing, with our legal team, the ‘British Swimming Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance’ (ESRTTG), which will specify the requirements for these identified ‘elite athletes’, and our approved training venues.

Any training venue that has not been approved by British Swimming will be acting outside this ESRTTG and we would advise athletes against participating in such activities until permitted to do so. We continue to work with our home nation colleagues to support a return to training when restrictions allow; however we respect that athletes in Scotland and Wales must continue to follow their respective government’s policy on the easing of lockdown restrictions.

At present, our Divers and Para-Swimmers aren’t resuming pool based training, but will continue their training programmes from home. As with everything in these uncertain times, government guidance is changing rapidly and we will constantly review our advice, and keep communication channels open. In the first instance, if you have any queries on this initial advisory, please do not hesitate to contact for media related queries or for programme specific questions.