It is deeply disappointing that Boris Johnson has made no clear indication in Parliament this afternoon about the reopening of swimming pools in England, despite announcing that pubs, restaurants, cinemas and even hairdressers can open.
Today, we all anticipated there would be positive news and that we would all be looking forward to making plans to reopen post 4th July.
“To say today’s announcement is extremely frustrating for everyone involved in swimming would be an understatement; not only in terms of the financial consequences for swimming pool operators and swim schools, but the impact it will have on participants not being able to access lessons and learn a key life skill.” said Dave Chandler, CEO STA
The STA are looking to actively work with all the major bodies involved in leisure to take action and lobby the government for further clarity and guidance on the reopening of swimming pools.
In support, as a first step, they have started an official petition so that we can hopefully reach an even wider public community – please sign and share far and wide …
The Shirley Pool has been “mothballed” since March and all activities stopped since the government directive due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Staff have been developing the plan for re-opening to comply with regulations. With advice from the two governing bodies of swimming, Swim England and STA, a one way system has evolved in order to enable dry change and wet change areas; the reception has been gutted and a new, smaller front desk installed; new software has been purchased to enable on line enrolment and booking make up lessons; teachers have been busy designing a new teaching plan to avoid manual handling and the Big Red Bus is now converted to a take away.
Shirley pool is confident it can continue to deliver wonderful teaching in a safe and comfortable environment. We will just have to wait until we are told it is safe to welcome back swimmers.
Looks like September opening now…
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Sea swimming has been in the news recently after two people tragically died in the seas off Cornwall’s North coast.
A teenage girl trapped beneath a capsized boat and a man who was pulled out of the sea off the Cornwall coast have died, police said.
The girl was with three others who survived after their boat capsized on the Doom Bar near Padstow. In another incident a man is in a serious condition in hospital after being found face down in the water at Porthtowan.
The two deaths were among multiple incidents reported to emergency services over the recent bank holiday.
It comes after the RNLI suspended lifeguard patrols on UK beaches due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The RNLI said it had been dealing with an increased number of call outs and urged people to follow safety advice “if people chose to go into the water”.
In a statement, it said: “We continue to do what we can to get a lifeguard service up and running as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, beach and pool lifeguards and surfers have joined together and formed a voluntary rescue band to prevent further tragedy. Tim Whitfield, an experienced lifeguard and surfer in St.Ives said
“Imagine being a fireman- you wouldn’t stand outside while the building burnt down would you?”
In another incident a man is in a serious condition in hospital after being found face down in the water at Porthtowan.
Steve England, from surf magazine Carve, who was surfing, said he and others gave the man CPR and pulled him out of the water while waiting for the coastguard helicopter and a lifeboat to arrive.
“If we had a RNLI lifeguard service on the beach we would have got oxygen to the casualty within two minutes but we had to wait 20 minutes,” he said.
Other incidents were reported including at other locations such as one where a number of surfers struggled in a rip current and two kayakers got into difficulty .
The chairman of the RNLI in Poole, Stuart Popham, has now announced the start of paid lifeguard cover on some beaches, “extremely challenging circumstances have delayed the normal roll-out of the RNLI service”
“We were on 18 beaches this weekend, 8 in Cornwall, and we will continue to work on this plan until as many beaches as possible”.
Local residents in Cornwall have started a fund raising campaign to support the lifeguards left unemployed by the RNLI. ” I think its’ outrageous that these brave people have been left high and dry by one of the richest charities. They stayed fit and trained all winter to be ready for the summer and could have been used in so many positive ways during the pandemic” said one of the fundraisers.
Researchers from University of Exeter University Medical School have release a major study of the possible dangers of sea swimming.
People who swim, bathe or take part in water sports in the sea are substantially more likely to experience stomach bugs, ear aches and other types of illness.
The results demonstrated that sea bathing doubled the odds of reporting general ear ailments, and the odds of reporting earache specifically rose by 77%. For gastrointestinal illnesses, the odds increased by 29%.
Dr Will Gaze, of the University of Exeter Medical School, supervised the research. He said:” …… it is important that people are aware of the risks so they can make informed decisions. Although most people will recover from infections with no medical treatment, they can prove more serious for vulnerable people, such as the very old or very young, or those with pre-existing health conditions. We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done. We hope this research will contribute to further efforts to clean up our coastal waters.”
Surfers against Sewage continue to campaign for more transparency from the Water Authorities not least Southern Water, who have been in the headlines recently, fined for repeatedly breaching Environment Agency standards.
Meanwhile Shirley Pool continues to prepare for reopening.
“ The pools are looking fantastic just now and we are working hard to be ready when it is safe “ said Pool boss Luke Perry , “We have upgraded the plant room and installed the latest in Ultra violet cleaning. UV is fast and efficient – destroying bacteria, algae, and viruses within two seconds when passing through the chamber.” Read the story so far.
Shirley swimmer Chris Cole is fully aware of the dangers of the sea. However, he is still hoping to complete his solo channel swim this summer, despite the Covid pandemic. Read more…
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Shirley Pool is gearing up to re-open as soon as the government gives the go ahead, possibly on July 4th. The management team are confident that they can open to the pubic, even with social distancing, albeit with some major changes for customers.
“ The pools are looking fantastic just now and we are working hard to be ready when it is safe “ said Pool boss Luke Perry , “We have upgraded the plant room and installed the latest in Ultra violet cleaning. UV is fast and efficient – destroying bacteria, algae, and viruses within two seconds when passing through the chamber.”
It is widely accepted that swimming pools are one of the safest environments as the chemicals used to keep the water clean also attack the virus. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of the pools.
The CDC goes on to say that proper disinfection with chlorine should inactivate the virus. A related coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic in 2003 was found to be inactivated by Ultra Violet Treatment and chlorine.
“Our heavy duty pumps have been constantly circulating the water from the pools to the plant room throughout the lockdown.Once the pool water has passed through large filters it is sent to the UV chambers for sanitation” said Luke.
“Auto dosing systems monitor the levels of PH and Chlorine in the pool and drip feed the required doses. The water is then heated before being returned to the pools. At the moment the heaters are off, but we promise to bring the temperature back up in time!”
The pool is now working on government recommendations and guidelines from the two governing bodies of swimming, Swim England and STA, to provide a safe environment for swimmers and parents.
“It looks like the current advise is that swimmers should arrive already in their costumes and take the most direct route possible to the water, avoiding the traditional changing methods”.
The pool has developed a one way system for children’s lessons, a dry change and a wet change that minimises contact between swimmers. Once in the pool, lessons have been restricted to just four per teacher. Daytime Parent and child customers will have exclusive use of the wet and dry areas, again restricted to four per class. Sealed boxes will be available for transfer to the wet change.
“The social distancing rules mean that we will have to limit the number of children we can teach each week, so existing customers will have to take priority at the moment”.
An online booking system has been introduced that means parents can arrange replacement lessons and even move class without contacting the reception.
The swimming club and advanced stroke classes will continue from 6pm in 40 minute slots for 12 swimmers using the whole of the main 25m pool.
Extra staff will be on hand in the changing areas to wipe down and sanitise touch points and handles.
With two pools and an unusually high level of shallow water, teaching space is not a problem. Two metre spacing can be maintained between the children during the lessons and the teacher can safely conduct the main pool stroke technique classes from the pool edge.
Playtime may need to be changed to an organised game such as treasure hunt or races.
The major change for customers will be the changing routines. The plan is to enter at a specified time into reception and the “male” changing rooms into 12 designated “dry change” areas. With costumes already donned, parents will take away clothes, dressing gowns or robes and send the children through to poolside, where a member of staff will ensure they arrive on time to the correct teaching station. After the lesson, swimmers will be sent in turn to the wet change area, the “ladies”, again in designated areas.
Children who are able to look after themselves will be able to take their clothes in a bag to a poolside dry area. Whenever possible, if children can safely enter the building, change and swim safely without parental supervision, it should be encouraged.
Parents can accompany pre school children to the poolside. Parent and child lessons will have exclusive use of the dry and wet changing areas and the male staff changing rooms can be used by fathers.
Adult lane swimming members will be able to attend with direct access to the poolside via reception.
During the pandemic, customers are asked to shower before and after swimming, at home. No showers will be available at the pool. Lockers will also be removed. Toilets will remain open.
In the meantime families are being warned to be careful if they visit the beach. Read more..
Shirley swimmer Chris Cole is still hoping to complete his solo channel swim this summer, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chris began his Odyssey ten years ago when he went to the Shirley Pool as a nervous adult beginner ” All I wanted to do was be able to swim without panicking. My kids had all learnt at Shirley and, as I was approaching 40, I thought it was time I learnt to swim”
This week Chris completed his six hour qualifying swim in the Solent to stay on target for the summer. “Fortunately I have been lucky enough to access a pool privately and now I can train in the sea. Hopefully we will get the go ahead in July or August.”
A member of staff is visiting the pool everyday to check the water. They report that the water is crystal clear, albeit a lot cooler. The water and air heating has been turned off but the pumps are still running, filtering the water constantly.
Meanwhile, we are working on the logistics of a restricted re-opening, once government allows swimming. It is expected that sometime in late July those pools with a Covid compliant risk assessment can start lessons.
No requests for direct debits will be made in June or July. If this changes in time for August or we are able to run crash courses, you will receive notification with plenty of notice.
Now that travel to beaches and beauty spots are allowed, you may be tempted to swim.
Be aware that the water in the sea is still very cold, 11 or 12 degrees at most, perhaps colder in rivers or quarries. If you choose to swim, don’t go alone, find a safe beach and enter the water slowly. Restrict the swim to 10 minutes initially and have warm clothes and drinks to hand. Avoid eating or drinking alcohol at least 2 hours before swimming .
You should be aware of possible rip currents and the action to take if caught in one.
At this time all the staff are well, the pool water is in great condition and there have been no reported cases of illness from our customers.
However, the government request to stop unnecessary travel and adopt social distancing would seem to indicate an imminent closure of schools and public places, as has taken place in most other European countries. It would appear that families (and family run businesses) are being asked to make their own judgements.
All lessons at Shirley Swimming Pool will phase out over the next two weeks.
The direct debit due at the start of April will NOT be taken.
Please do not cancel your direct debit. When lessons resume you will have ample notice.
Effective immediately, if you prefer not to attend your remaining lessons, let reception know and these will be held on credit until the lesson program resumes.
The pool remains open for lane and recreational swimming at this time.
Contact reception by email:
Please clearly state swimmers name, class, day & time.
By text: 07934 384515
By telephone: 02380 781901. Option 1 for absences.
It is anticipated that the last lessons will take place on Tuesday March 31st. Any update on government guidelines will be adhered to.
By coincidence, the new management team at Shirley Pool, due to take over on April 1st, had been conducting due diligence and discovered a leak in the small pool. A joint decision to close and repair the leak had already been taken. The transfer to the new company will be postponed until the lesson program resumes.
Thank you for your custom and support. We all wish you good health and look forward to safely welcoming everyone back in the near future.
The latest information for the leisure industry is that the swimming pool is safe as the chlorine in the water deactivates the virus.
The pool water is constantly tested and a minimum level of chlorine is always maintained, meaning there is no possibility of waterborne contamination.
All necessary steps to ensure that we protect against the risk of Coronavirus are being taken in accordance with government guidelines. This includes regular and thorough disinfection throughout the changing rooms, reception and doorways. Hand sanitiser is on on the reception desk and at the sinks in the changing rooms.
However, if you or the children are feeling unwell, please use our “make up policy” and let us know that you are staying home.
Reception will help you with re arrange all make up lessons when you return.
Staff and swimmers should follow the NHS guidelines and ensure that all pool users shower before and after using the pool.
The pool managers will continue to closely follow the advice of Public Health England and will adhere to any recommendations the government may make regarding the best practice for the health of the community.