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CEO Message March 2021 - Re-opening aquatics in Wales

Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming , Water Polo, Education
National, Performance

Dear aquatic family, partners and friends

I hope that you and your families are still keeping safe and well in these times of prolonged uncertainty. We continue to look forward to a time when our daily lives can return to some form of normality and the restrictions on us start to be lifted.

The significant rise in COVID cases across Wales in December 2020 meant that the inevitable closure of all walks of life in Wales would follow. Despite considerable push back by Swim Wales, the recognised National Governing Body, Welsh Government’s closure of leisure facilities would (for a second extended period this year) bring all of our activities and sports to a standstill. This has meant that the start of 2021 has been a very frustrating one for all of our members, clubs and participants. Whether you are a swimmer/player, a club coach, a supporter/parent or a volunteer official everyone is desperate for a return to water.

We were extremely disappointed that Welsh Government did not signal a reopening of indoor facilities in last Friday’s announcement on March 12th. The last and 4th review of this current lockdown phase did lift restrictions on outdoor sports but failed to address a timeline for reopening swimming pools. This week, alongside Sport Wales and Welsh Sports Association we will attend more meetings to once again make the case for changes to the regulations to allow for our activities and sports to resume as soon as possible.

The latest Welsh Government report can be found here:

Technical Advisory Cell: summary of advice 9 March 2021

Over the past 12 months, Swim Wales has met with Welsh Government over 60 times re COVID related issues on all of our stakeholders’ behalf. These meetings, involving myself and members of our senior team, have been directly with Welsh Government ministers and officials. We have constantly reminded decision makers of the professional way our sport has addressed this pandemic through a well organised national governing body and our substantial network of aquatic clubs, swim schools and partners. The government representatives are also reminded of the fact that, collectively, we have extensive experience of restarting activity safely, and our indoor facility operators have extensive mitigation measures in place to manage any potential risks that the medical authorities believe exist. We will continue to work with Welsh Government officials to ensure that our sport is heard at the highest levels and emphasise that we are ready and able to return to activity safely.

Through the WSA we have again written to Welsh Government asking for our required changes to regulations to be included in the next formal review on April 2nd. This will allow clubs and facility operators to make plans for a safe return, just as we did last summer following the first lockdown and again in the autumn after the fire break.

All aquatic and community clubs across Wales are critical for the survival of our sport. Grass roots swimming, water polo and other development sports is our past, our present and it is our future - We will continue to protect it at all costs. Once again, thank you for your patience, your commitment and everything that you have done to support Aquatics in Wales this year.

We have come a long way together, through hard times and the good. I am confident that we are nearly there, and we will update you fully when we have a breakthrough in our discussions with government.

Yours sincerely,

Fergus Feeney

Chief Executive Officer, Swim Wales

Board Member, British Swimming