October 20, 2020

Original 20/10/20

Updated 23/20/20

Dear Members,

You will all be aware now of the Government announcement in the Republic of Ireland last night to move to Level 5 from midnight tomorrow Wednesday 21st October for the next six weeks (until December 1st).

This was a very significant announcement and has meant that for the next 6 weeks our sport has, for almost all of us, effectively been stopped.

Despite how devastating this is, we remind ourselves that it is only temporary and we are glad to see that our Performance athletes (definition to follow) can continue, as can those who are still comfortable to swim in the outdoors (and of course who live within 5km of the sea).

Whilst it is terribly disappointing news that pools in ROI are closed during this period, we wanted to assure you that we have been relentless in our efforts to represent our sport, our Clubs and the sector since the beginning of this pandemic and particularly over the past few weeks.

In collaboration with Ireland Active, we have been working on your behalf to represent our sport and all involved, seek appropriate funding supports, make the case for pools to remain open, emphasise the work and commitment of our community to implement everything required of them in relation to public health measures, and of course all the benefits of our sport for those involved.

We have written directly to the Taoiseach on more than one occasion, met with the Minister of State for Gaeltacht and Sport Jack Chambers individually and as part of the Covid 19 Sport Monitoring Group, were part of a representation group with the Federation of Irish Sport, who presented to the Oireachtas Committee and have had numerous engagements with Sport Ireland and the Department of Sport.

We also pledge that we will continue to make representation on behalf of members and facilities and if there is a loosening of restrictions, please be assured that we will be pushing for facilities to re-open at the earliest possible time.

Some key points from the information received last night, with detailed notes at the end of this document:

Level 5

  • Swimming Pools are closed
  • Performance Swimming/Diving – A definition of who these athletes are and how this works is currently being sought from Sport Ireland and will be very much focused on the Tokyo 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Club Swimming/Water Polo/Diving - Non-contact training can take place for school aged children, outdoors in pods of 15

We reiterate that we know this is a difficult time for the aquatic community and we will work to support and guide you through it. Some of the supports that will be available over the coming weeks include:

  • Swimming Pool Fund announced yesterday. Details available HERE.
  • We will continue to work with clubs individually and help you develop your plans for the future
  • We are working on our new Athlete/Club support programme to keep members engaged during pool closures and whilst they have no access to swimming pools
  • Revision again of our Competition format for Swimming & Water Polo (to be ready to go once we move into lower levels which allow for competition)
  • Moving to increase provision again for online learning opportunities including webinars and CPDs for Clubs, Facilities, Teachers and Coaches
  • Club Resilience Grant to support Clubs if we are successful in our Sport Ireland application (due end October)

Despite all the challenges, we as a community have managed to get through a full lockdown before and we will do so again. We urge you to try to keep positive and know that we will come out of this, our sport will continue and there are brighter days ahead.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need support of guidance.

Swim Ireland Team

Key Points for: Republic of Ireland Level 5 and Northern Ireland

'Living & Swimming with COVID-19' Level 5 - Republic of Ireland

Performance Swimming/Diving – Key points:

· Training may continue for a group of athletes which will be defined in association with Sport Ireland. Where training for this group can take place will also become clear to us

· Performance athletes, staff, coaches, and practitioners may travel to train

· Performance specific competition may still take place with protective measures in place

Club Activities (All disciplines) - Key points:

· Facilities are closed therefore no indoor pool/land-based training can take place

· Competitions cannot take place

Outdoor Training - Specific guidance on non-contact training for school agreed children will be issued by Government. In the interim, the following is advised:

  • Underage activity refers to those in primary and secondary school who are aged 18 years and younger
  • Participants and coaches may travel beyond the 5km limit to attend training.
  • Car-pooling should continue to be avoided
  • Outdoor facilities may open only to allow the activity to take place. Only those participating in and conducting the training session should attend.

· All other training should be individual only

· Travel – stay in your county within 5k of home

Swimming Lessons

· Facilities are closed therefore no lessons can take place

Education

  • Online learning to continue
  • Facilities are closed therefore practical sessions cannot take place
    • Athletes who are deemed “Elite” under the Sport NI description of “Elite Athlete” are permitted to continue with coach led training within their own pool. Letters of dispensation have been circulated to all clubs who have athletes who are within this category.

'Living & Swimming with COVID-19' Increased restrictions 4 weeks 16 Oct 2020 6pm – Northern Ireland

Performance Swimming/Diving – Key points:

· Training may continue for a group of athletes which has been defined by the Northern Ireland Executive as ‘elite’ and adopted by Swim Ulster

· Performance athletes, staff, coaches, and practitioners may travel to train

· Performance specific competition may still take place with protective measures in place

  • The majority of swimming pools remain open in the 11 council areas.
  • All Club sessions (Swimming and Water Polo) are not currently permitted under the current restrictions, local providers have been cancelling sessions from Friday 16th October (6pm) for a period of four weeks.
  • Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have unfortunately taken the decision to close their Leisure facilities.
  • Individual swimming that is booked directly with the provider is permitted under the new regulations
    • Swim Ireland / Ulster have made representation to the NI Executive to allow Clubs to return to Coach led Club activities under Swim Ireland protocols.
  • 1 to 1 Coaching / Teaching is permitted under the heightened restrictions.