Published 11 May 2020 

Yesterday, the UK Government announced that from Wednesday 13 May some sports will be able to restart. We await further clarity from the Government over the coming days, for now, we offer our interpretation and response to this announcement.

Open water swimming venues remain closed and not lifeguarded, in addition, RNLI is aiming to provide lifeguard services on around 30% of the beaches that they usually cover. At present, there are no lifeguards on duty across the UK and Ireland. Rescue services and the NHS remain stretched as they respond to saving lives related to the virus, and face their own challenges to protect staff and volunteers.

It is, therefore, our advice that until we can work with colleagues and partners to establish a position, people should continue to perform daily exercise that does not pose a risk to themselves or our front-line rescue organisations. Despite some news reports, swimming in ponds and open water that will not be lifeguarded, poses a significant risk to the public, and could put a strain on emergency services above and beyond other activities. We recognise that there are many seasoned swimmers that are capable of enjoying the water, safely.  Unless suitable safety measures and guidance are in place to protect the public, emergency services and lifeguards, we would encourage, everyone, for this short time, including experienced open water swimmers, to refrain from exercising in water.

We are working with Swim England and British Triathlon on guidance to aid venues to develop suitable safety measures, so that when it is deemed appropriate, they are safe to re-open. Guidance will follow over the coming days that addresses the balance between encouraging seasoned open water swimmers, and protecting the wider public and NHS.

Our aim is to ensure everybody can enjoy the water, safely.

Take our free, online, and certificated water safety toolkit to prepare for any water-based  scenario: