Published: 6 May 2021

We have really enjoyed hearing that people are loving being back in swimming pools and enjoying water safely, but changes have had to be made, and challenges overcome. We spoke to Wells Lifesaving Club about their experience post-COVID to get an insight into what challenges they have encountered, how they overcame them and members thoughts on being back.   

What challenges have you faced?

  • We are now competing with at least one Scout Troop - our meetings clash and scouts are winning.
  • New booking system at the pool
  • Instructors have had to make teaching adaptions and, we are aware of differences between how we are operating and what children are used to in school.
  • Increased forms and recording to comply with new COVID practices.

What changes have you had to make to reopen the club?

As a lifesaving club we have traditionally met on a Sunday evening from 6-8 pm (one-hour theory / CPR and one-hour swimming) and a Thursday evening from 8-9 pm alternate swimming and theory sessions.  We are now meeting on a Monday from 7.30-8.15pm, pool hire has increased, but we are still not able to resume our theory sessions yet.  Our session fees have gone up.

Currently, we are only able to take our younger members back - those 18 years and under.

Members now arrive 'beach ready', although we can use the changing rooms after the session, but shoes have to be put on, after leaving the changing room!

We are now exploring opportunities to meet up for some practical CPR sessions during the summer; and, we need to plan beach and still water sessions.  Looking at combining perhaps with another activity.

If you look back on reopening the club, what one thing would you have done differently?

Face coverings - need everyone to bring a spare for some activities!  Makes things tricky if only half the club has them for some activities.

How did you keep members engaged during closures?

During term-time, we ran weekly Skype sessions for club members until Christmas. We then dropped to fortnightly.
Targeted courses including Timekeeping, Assistant Instructors, Lifesaving Instructors, lots of Rookie awards (even the adults enjoyed the Rookie First Aid Course).
Started an NPLQ course on-line.
Organised beach and stillwater sessions during Summer 2020 - completed Survive and Save and Open Water Lifeguard courses.

Tell us a little bit about the positive reaction of members when they finally got back into the pool?

Our first session saw 11 members swim from six different schools - a lot of people hadn't seen each other for a long time.  Some members were still sporting their lockdown hair, and so many of them had grown so tall.
Lots of comments about how they could still swim!  

Some quotes we got back after the first session included:
"Came home buzzing" (parents of two members)
"I can still swim!"(lots of members have said this)
"It's great to be back, it was a really fun session, and I can't wait to go back next week."
"It was 2000/10. Loved it and, it was just brilliant to be with people."
"It was amazing to be back, really enjoyable."
"So good to be able to get back into the pool."

Tell us about your own, personal reaction to the news the club could reopen.

  • Relief - Sunday evening Skype sessions were getting to be quite hard to plan and excited to see everyone again - we still have a lifesaving club!     
  • Missing some members who can't make our new training time
  • Like many of the parents, the instructors are conscious that many of the members have lost some of their swim fitness.

We would like to thank the staff at Strode Swimming Pool, run by Fusion Lifestyle, for their support in getting us back to training.