When will swimming pools reopen in the UK?

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SWIMMING pools, gyms and leisure centres are allowed to reopen after a further easing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

But the head of Swim England, Jane Nickerson, fears “there will be a lost generation of children this year who don’t learn to swim”.

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Swimming pools were given the go-ahead to reopen from Saturday, July 25.

Gyms and leisure centres will be allowed to reopen in England on July 25 but at least a third of public facilities are expected to remain shut due to financial hardship.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also confirmed that indoor gyms, swimming pools and other sport and exercise facilities will not reopen in Luton or Blackburn with Darwen, due to an increase in coronavirus cases in those areas.

Earlier this month, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that gyms and leisure centres will be able to reopen from July 25, with strict hygiene and social-distancing measures.

But Community Leisure UK, the members’ association, estimate that 48 per cent of all public leisure facilities face closure, meaning as many as 1,300 could disappear by the end of the year, along with more than 58,000 jobs.

Those pools that do reopen will have noticeable changes to minimise the spread of coronavirus, while adhering to new government guidelines.

Head of facilities for Swim England, Richard Lamburn says pools will have to pass a microbiological test before they can reopen and added that the water will need to be reheated, this has to be done at an increase of 0.25C an hour.

This is to enable chlorine, which is used in pools to keep it clean, to inactivate most viruses.

Jane Nickerson, head of Swim England, told Radio 4: “One of our biggest, biggest fears is that there will be a lost generation of children this year who don’t learn to swim.”

Swimmers will have to adhere to social distancing rules in the water, while pool cleanliness will be a top priority.

Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, said: “In the early days, it may be that you are encouraged not to use the changing rooms.

“What we’re suggesting is going ‘beach ready’. Some pools might ask you just to put on a towelling robe and — let’s hope you’re not on a bus, you’re in a car — travel home like that.”

People may be told to change by the pool and put their valuables in a bag inside a locker.

Social distancing rules for swimmers in the water will be stricter than usual.

A standard 25-metre pool will be modified so it has three lanes, rather than the normal six.

Under the proposals, this would mean ten people to a lane, and 30 in the pool in total.

Ms Nickerson said: “It will be a much stricter regime…not standing at the end, but to keep swimming – and to keep five metres from the person in front of you.

“We are saying if you do need to stop for a rest, or catch your breath, just make sure you get to the edge of the lane, to allow others to turn, and keep your head away, face the wall.”

There is no official date set for the return of swimming lessons for kids.

Kids “playing around” will be banned from pools unless they are taking lessons.

But children who do not yet know how to swim will still be welcome in pools so they can enjoy lessons.

Ms Nickerson said: “Kids playing around – I don’t think we’ll be seeing that for some time because of the social distancing.

“It doesn’t mean that we couldn’t do lessons, or some club and community activity – as long as they are programmed and maintaining a distance.”

Ms Nickerson said facilities would be limited for those attending the pool – with local indoor facilities seeming “very different” when they reopen.

She said: “One thing is clear – initially things aren’t going to be the same when pools do reopen.

“We will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines in changing rooms, the poolside and the water itself as well of the rest of the building and be more mindful of our surroundings.”

She said that communal areas may have to be closed and that people would have to arrive with their swimsuits on underneath their normal clothing.

Swimmers are urged to shower at home, arriving wearing their swimwear under their clothes already and to bring toys and floats with them.

This change, called “beach ready” and is designed to make sure swimmers spend less time in the changing room and to ensure that showers are available post-swim

People may be told to change by the pool and put their valuables in a bag inside a locker.

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