I’m proud to be Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming. Swimming, and all the aquatic sports and activities, are fantastic ways for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy.
Pools are much loved hubs in our local communities, loved by competitive athletes through to families having fun splashing around together, to those learning to swim for the very first time.
The fact they are enjoyed by so many people is one of the reasons the enforced closure during the lockdown has been so painful for all of us who love the water. Whilst it has been necessary to make this sacrifice to help bring the virus under control, as we approach the end of the national lockdown it is vital the government reopens these precious venues in the first waves of reopening.
Thorough guidance has been produced by Swim England and implemented by operators to make pools safe environments. This has been reflected by the incredibly low transmission rates associated with pools (just 0.17% according to figures released by Public Health England).
When they were allowed to run, I know aquatics clubs had introduced dedicated Covid officers to ensure everyone was doing everything required to stay safe and minimise any risks.
This, coupled with the huge health and wellbeing benefits of being active in the water and the very real danger of permanently losing more treasured pools the longer they are closed for, means that, as the country moves out of the national lockdown next month, it is time for the government to #OpenOurPools so that they can be at the heart of the nation’s recovery from Covid.
This past year has been such a difficult time for everyone, and I know how much swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming clubs across the country are itching to get back in the water.
As the government considers what to open and when, I hope it will match its warm words about the importance of physical activity by prioritising the opening of pools which will have such a huge benefit on the health and wellbeing of the nation.
A key passion for me is increasing the number of children leaving primary school able to swim and be safe in the water. When schools return we need pools open so we can reduce the stark inequalities that currently exist which mean that less than 50% of children from poorer families, and just 49.1% of black children leave school able to swim.
For all the reasons above and more I have written to the Prime Minister to make the case for swimming pools being one of the first venues to be allowed to reopen. Read my letter here.
As we come to the end of the lockdown, the time is right to #OpenOurPools for everyone to enjoy once more.