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Covid 19 – Update

Covid-19 – the Implications for Wiltshire Swimming

As a County Association, affiliated to Swim England, we must look to them for advice on how to deal with the current crisis. Whilst I am sure that most of you will have given priority in the last week or so, to the health and wellbeing of your own family, it seems appropriate to give some thought to County swimming, and how the present problems are likely to have an impact on your Club.

Clearly meetings are currently out of the question, so we must look to other forms of management and communication for the foreseeable future. After consultation with key colleagues in the Association it’s been agreed that our affairs will, in the short term, be administered by a small Management Team, comprising the Officers, Emergency Committee, together with representation from Competition/Events, Education and of course Coaches. They will take responsibility for all matters that need to be dealt with, until such time as normal service can be resumed. Needless to say, there will be appropriate consultation with clubs as issues arise. 

So for the short term, our Management Team will be Officers: Catherine Watkinson, Andy Ryczanowski, Geoff Pearce and Michele Greenan, Emergency: Paul Robins and Dennis Yeoman. Competition/Events: Diane Lee, Rob Hart and Sandra Yeoman: Coaches: Lesley Leffers: Education: Andrea Christmas. Our County Secretary will co-ordinate where necessary and we envisage having regular conference calls to keep in touch.

We have already looked at an agenda of issues that need to be addressed, including any additional advice we feel able to offer, over and above that already available from Swim England, the NHS/Healthcare Agencies and of course on-going advice from HM Govt.

Advice from Swim England

Our Governing body have been very proactive in providing guidance on running our Clubs, whilst adhering closely to all the advice available from the best Health & Scientific expertise. They have issued clear guidelines, via their web site and have also provided updates to FAQ’s as a result of all the questions referred to them. Steps have already been taken to copy these to all clubs, and as it’s updated, and this practice will continue – we can’t afford to miss anything. 

Swim England feel unable to compel us to follow their guidance, but we must ensure that if we do stray from their carefully considered and researched opinions, we must be prepared to justify such action through appropriate risk assessments – all of which needs to be well documented and formally agreed by your Club Committees. There may be compelling reasons why ‘going it alone’ may seem preferable, but our advice is to think very carefully before so doing.

What support can the County provide?

We are not experts at dealing with serious threats to our health, nor are we in a position to issue guidance as Swim England are. But we are all involved in solving problems at Club level. The value of sharing cannot be underestimated – whatever your problem, someone out there has probably encountered it before and probably found a solution.

We need to share as much information as possible, such as:

  1. Are we in touch with our pool providers – do they have any thoughts on the future policy. Are any pools likely to be at risk? Are you going to be in a position to need as much pool time as you had before the crisis?
  2. Any ideas on keeping in close (well 2m apart to start with) contact with our members, when it’s appropriate to do so?
  3. What are you doing to stay in touch with your membership?
  4. What means are you using to manage your Club through your committee/management team?
  5. Any experts out there that can help us with conference calls or video conferencing?
  6. Can we access any funding to meet salary costs both for PAYE Employees or Self Employed?
  7. Have you had any problems in making or grants for above?
  8. Any particular funding the County may be able offer for specific projects?
  9. How are you going to encourage your swimmers to keep fit?
  10. Have you considered the implications, both financial and otherwise, of reduced membership?


Impact of a Long Closure of Club Activity

Various forms of self-isolation seem to be the key to fighting this infection. But if Club members are unable to meet and carry out their normal activity, history tells us, that this has a significant impact on the retention of members – already subject to significant reductions in recent years. The longer it takes to resume normal activity, the greater the loss will be and it’s not just fee- paying swimmers you may lose but volunteers too. 

We will all have to find something to do as we are prevented from following our ‘normal’ lifestyle. This has financial implications too. In short, don’t expect to start again from where we all left off!

A key part of our short-term thinking could be identifying what we can do to keep our membership interested and involved without getting wet!

There are things that can be done, especially in this digital world – virtual land training, group chats, quiz nights. Let’s share our ideas – keeping our members involved could play a crucial part in re-building your club. As the restrictions on movement start to relax, there may be opportunities for some ‘dry’ activities that bring people back together again.

The power of education should not be overlooked, for teachers, coaches, administrators & volunteers. The IoS remains active and are responding by running some courses on-line. Our County Networks could be used effectively to prepare for a new beginning when the timing is right. What are your needs in this area?

Is there anything in particular that needs to be addressed to meet the new affiliation requirements?

Cancellation or Postponement?

Nobody knows how long it’s going to take to bring this crisis to an eventual close. Progress will need to be cautious to prevent the virus bouncing back and of course we are all dependant upon the availability of pools We have already taken action to cancel the next 2 rounds of the Summer League and the future of the Talent Camps for the rest of the year is under close review at present. 

There are longer term implications to our competitive programme for the rest of the current year and in preparation for the programme in 2021. Our Competition & event specialists will be concentrating their efforts in this key area. 

If your Club have any views, on any subject, please let us know through Michele – we can only benefit through sharing.


2nd April ‘20

Andy, Michele and Dennis Yeoman 

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