Published: 19 January 2022

It seems like a lifetime ago in March 2020 we waved off our lifesavers as we went into lockdown.

If I’m perfectly honest, I thought we’d be off for four weeks, and return after the Easter Holidays!!! How naïve I was…!

That said, I think little did any of us realise that over 20 months later, we’d still be here talking about covid19…??

Over the summer of 2020 swimming pools were finally allowed to open, and wow were we ready to smell that glorious chlorine.

As a school pool we were slightly delayed, but raring to go (risk assessment in hand) in September 2020.

The one-way system, the coming beach ready, the rule of 6… Ohh it seems like a distant memory (and thank goodness!!)

It’s been a rollercoaster ride as I’m sure anyone with a club will testify!

As I sit here and reflect, quite simply we could not have done it without the support and trust of our parents and lifesaving families.

Often we wonder if we’ve gotten things right as we find our way through this post-pandemic world with no map, but whenever I see our lifesavers smiles, I like to think we’ve come as close as you can get.

There’s been lots of scratching of heads as we come up with new ways to teach and practice skills, a ton of cleaning, some nervous swimmers, plenty of shouting of “keep your distance”… and did I mention soooo much cleaning!

But what a year it’s turned out to be! A lifeline for all. A teeny tiny piece of “normal” (or nearly normal). Laughter. Fun. Tears. Lifesaving!

Following a few false starts (that pesky Lockdown 2.0, and the rather vexing Christmas Lockdown…) lifesaving continued at Bishop’s Waltham.

Summer brought few fresh challenges - a new stillwater venue had to be found, as the council were not opening the changing rooms of our usual lake.

But, this turned out to be a positive, with great feedback on the new location a return trip is already in the pipeline for next year!

And with the assistance of our friends at Gosport and Fareham Inshore Lifeboat Service (GAFIRS) we even made our annual pilgrimage to the beach… Albeit with a few covid related changes!

The year has culminated in 7 of our lifesavers achieving their Distinction Awards, and a lovely presentation evening by Jill Bailey – Ambassador for the South Region.

John and I are so very proud of all of our lifesavers, those that had the courage to come back to the pool during these uncertain times, those that stepped up to help teach so we could re-open, those that show up each week without fail, the glue that keeps our family together, and those that have achieved their own personal goals.

A huge well done to you all, and thank you for making lifesaving that little bit of normal for everyone each week.

Hannah & John Wiggins-Bettles

Bishops Waltham Community Swimming