C19 Pool Sessions

We’re delighted to be able to resume our coached session this November and I’m sure that in time they’ll be “running like clockwork” (there’s a first time for everything :-) ). However, there’s going to be quite a bit more for everyone to think about this time around. If you’d like to help us figure it out, please think about getting involved in your coaching group, joining the club committee or simply pitch in on our Q&A section below.

The obvious disclaimer: the advice below is based on a best-effort interpretation of information on 22/10/2020. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the committee or our coaches and is only designed to be interpreted in the context of coached pool sessions offered to members of St Agnes SLSC.

Is pool swimming safe?

UK swimming pools are commonly disinfected with chlorine (as a primary disinfectant) with a secondary disinfection method in the form of UV light. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus that is likely to be more sensitive to chlorination than, for example, non-enveloped enterovirus such as adenovirus. This enables the pool operator to state with confidence that Covid-19 should not be transmissible through the swimming pool water if the pool is operated in line with this guidance and that of PWTAG.

Source: Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group – pwtag.org

Is pool swimming in-line with government advice?

Despite the country moving back to C19 Threat Level 4, the positive impact of participation in sport on mental and physical wellbeing has been recognised. We currently understand that club pool sessions will be exempt from the limitation of 6 people so long as we take additional steps (including this document) to demonstrate that our operations and those of the pool operator are “C19 Safe”.

Updated 23/09/2020

When will my pool session be?

Our pool session are organised by school year group, you can check out the session times.

To give everyone a bit more space and allow us to deliver the best possible coaching in a C19-safe way, we’re limiting the number of people in the water to 20 in any session. With each of our coaching groups having around 40 children, this means each child will be offered a session every other week. The lead coach and secretary of each year group will decide how best to split their group.

How will I know if my session is on?

The club’s C19 officer, with the support of the committee, will monitor the constantly changing national and local guidance and will make a decision about whether each pool session should go ahead. Lead coaches will be informed by email if it looks like we need to modify our approach.

We can’t expect coaches to phone round everyone in their group, I think pretty much all our groups now have a Whatsapp group that we encourage all parents to join.

Should I attend my session?

Please do not come to your session if you are showing any symptoms of C19:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal. If your wetsuit boots smell OK, you’re probably stuffed.

Please do not attend a session if you are isolating, either on the instruction of your school or NHS track & trace.

Before your session

Please use the toilet, shower and get changed into swimming costumes at home before attending sessions. If you haven’t got a dry-robe, this might be something to consider. Check out Granite Sports for options in club colours

You may want to bring a filled water bottle to have poolside during your swim.

It’s more important than ever that swimmers bring their own swimming hat & goggles as we won’t be able to share spares this year. Latex swimming hats will be available at your first session for £5.

Depending on the pool you are attending there will be an assembly point for the group to meet before entering the pool. A coach or group helper will meet the children at this point and escort them to the pool. Parents may not be permitted poolside except the group helpers & coaches or by special arrangement. Parents should remain in their cars.

During the session

Participants will be directed to a (socially distanced) point poolside where they will be able to change out of their remaining clothes. Clothes will be left poolside and there will be no lockers available so it’s advisable to avoid bringing any valuables into the pool area.

Despite the best efforts of our coaches things are going to have to be a bit different this year. We’ll do our best to try to keep some of the fun and collaborative life-saving elements that everyone loves. However, distancing constraints that apply both pool-side and in the water will probably necessitate a more ordered approach to the session and a much lower tolerance to messing about.

After swimming you’ll only be able to change poolside if you have a changing robe that is suitable for this. There will be limited time before the next group so use of showers should be reserved for those for whom this is a requirement.

After your session

Participants will be escorted back to the meeting point for collection by parents.

We recommend all participants have a shower at home after their session.


Please, please ask questions and challenge us to find an answer! We hope this might help us knock out some of the snags before we even get on the water. There’s a diverse range of knowledge and experience amongst our members so if you can contribute to answering any of the questions raised, please get in touch: henthorns@btinternet.com

What happens if a participant gets into difficulty in the water?

The pool lifeguards have been trained to deliver emergency support in a C19-safe way. The smaller group size will facilitate creating safe, multi-level activities that suit every ability level.

What if a participant needs to use the toilet?

We certainly don’t want to encourage use of the pool! Both facilities have said that a toilet is available if required but they would prefer participants not to if possible!

What happens if my child struggles with a swimming hat or googles and parents aren’t permitted poolside?

We will have one nominated helper with PPE on hand i.e visor, mask and gloves, pump bottle of hand sanitiser. They would then help out with problems like that.

Will we still be able to use shared equipment: boards, tubes, kickboards & fins?

We think boards, tubes, kickboards and noodles can be used safely if immersed for 20 seconds between users. This means no board rescues or relays and tube rescues will be long-tow only (not clipped-in). We are keen to introduce fins / flippers. to our sessions but are still working out how to achieve this safely.

Will I need to isolate if another participant / coach is tested positive following a session?

Like all sports activities right now, attendance will be recorded and made available to Serco Track ‘n’ Trace if requested.

Our interpretation of the Track & Trace guidance is that participants in a lane group would be classed as close contact – not the entire coaching group.

Can we do car sharing to and from the pool?

Sadly we cannot recommend car sharing at this time and recommend you travel to and from the pool only with your family group. However, we recognise that this may not always be possible. If you are car sharing, please make the register taker aware at the start of the session so they can assign your group to the same lane.

Will children be scanned with a thermometer on entry?

Infra-red thermometers are inaccurate in the context of participants being brought from the cold outside into the heated pool environment. We ask that participants carry out the checks listed above in “should I attend my session?” before leaving home.

Info for coaches and helpers

Coaching needs to change

We can’t just roll out session plans from previous years and expect them to be compatible with current guidance on pool use. Structuring compatible sessions will take some extra effort but now more than ever these sessions can be really valuable to participants.

Generally the club has given coaching groups a great deal of autonomy in deciding how to coach but we all agreed that current circumstances required a degree of conformity and consistency in our approach. However, coaches also need to be agile and respond to the ever-changing backdrop of advice and legislation.

Running The Session
No wayMaybe LaterGood to go
Groups > 20 Groups <= 20
Split by school / class if possible – most bubble friendly way. We need to record who is in each lane.
Parents Poolside Participants maintain same lane throughout session
  Register taker has PPE available for duration of session.
  Retain register (including coaches / helpers) and session plans for at least 1 month.
  Assistant coaches and helpers by prior arrangement / invitation.
 Coaches in the water.
Maintain distance using noodle?  Youth coaches?
Split pool by competency Keep non-swimmers in their depth.
  Equipment use:
Handed out by coaches. Kept in lane. Immersed for min 20 seconds between users. Returned by participants to store.
No wayMaybe LaterGood to go
Poolside ActivitiesSwimming in FinsLane swim training
Diving9ft foamie paired board workHigh energy training – breathless
Paired nipper board rescues.Jumping in from the side (challenge is maintaining 2m distance when out of the pool)Underwater activities
Relay races Board paddling
Clipped in tube rescues Tube tows (not clipped in)
  Manikin tows
  Kick boards, pull buoys, noodles.
  Tumble-turns and underwater rotations
Additional kit?

The club is fortunate to have a healthy reserve and even with discounted membership this year has the ability to fund additional kit to support changes to training. For example, being unable to rescue “live” patients might mean we could do with additional or more sophisticated manekins.

The importance of a non-coaching helper

During a coached session the coach should maintain distance where possible, this is particularly important where the coach is involved in multiple groups. However, we recognised the need both in normal operations and exceptions / emergencies for at least one member of the coaching team to be able to be closer to participants and that this could be achieved with basic PPE. This key helper could be the person doing the register and be in charge of escorting the group from the meeting point to poolside prior to the session and from the pool back to the meeting point after the session.

Child Protection Issues

It’s critical that any changes made to a session to reduce the risk of C19 transmission are adequately risk assessed for impact on our child protection policies.