We started swimming with Becky Adlington SwimStars in February 2020, and not long after a few weekly lessons, of course, lockdown number one struck, and we were all stuck at home!
SwimStars member resources
During the first lockdown, Becky Adlington paired up with Beth Tweddle gymnastics, and there were LOADS of physical activities, videos, and challenges to take part in. I felt like there was a real value for money aspect, as we could access these at any time. I kept finding more and more stuff to keep the boys busy every time I logged in. Even though gymnastics is not totally like swimming, it was all delivered in a friendly upbeat way that we enjoyed, plus there were other things to do like baking and wordsearches.
During the summer term, Sunshine and Rainbow award schemes were also released, and I’ll be honest, we didn’t do very many. We did make sure to watch the Water Safety lesson before we returned to the water in September.
It is really great to know that all those amazing resources are still there to keep the kids occupied while we’re still in a pandemic where the safest thing to do is to stay local and keep with your family group.
What was it like returning to swimming during Covid-19?
Our Becky Adlington’s SwimStars sessions are held in a Nuffield Health gym, so we had to wait for the gyms to be allowed to open. The gyms had to be able to demonstrate a really high level of risk assessment and minimise the potential for covid to spread in their facilities, so when we got the okay to go swimming, I was happy that the two organisations would have worked together to make it as covid-secure as possible.
Restrictions on the numbers of people allowed on the premises and on the poolside
Pre-covid, we used to be able to sit and watch the boys swim in their lessons at the poolside, through a glass window. Unfortunately, that couldn’t continue due to the need to social distance so when the lessons began in September, we were only allowed to drop the boys off at the pool and then dash back outside again to sit in the car until the end of their lessons. As the weather began to get fouler into the Autumn, that sprint between the gym and the car got a bit soggy, and one day we were met with the wonderful news that the gym’s cafe was going to open the next week.
There is a ‘one adult per swimmer on the poolside rule’, and that was extended to within the building to adhere to guidelines around social distancing. For a while, the cafe was open and serving basic drinks, so while the boys swam there was a chance for a catch-up with other parents over a coffee – almost normal!
Arrive “beach ready”, swim, then “Dry, Dress and Exit”
Pre-covid, we obviously undressed for swimming in the changing rooms, and showered after swimming in the cubicles of the gym. Sadly that wasn’t possible due to covid-19 restrictions and we were asked to arrive at the gym “beach ready”. This meant that the boys needed to wear their swimming shorts under a onesie, with Crocs (no socks) so that we could strip off quickly at the poolside at lesson time.
After their lessons, to start with we had to get the boys changed at the poolside. Trying to dress two boys while holding a towel around them to keep their dignity wasn’t easy. There were some “hilarious” moments where the boys were creased over giggling at having seen someone else’s bum, or when Noah “accidentally” forgot to pop his willy in his underpants… Fortunately getting changed after lessons by the side of the pool was short-lived, and Becky Adlington’s Swim Stars team worked with the Nuffield Health gym staff to open up a special area in the cafe so that the kids could get changed in privacy away from the pool.
Not being by the side of the pool means that we have to keep an eye on the time, and when it’s the end of the lesson we leave the cafe and go through to the poolside (through what I suppose is more normally an emergency exit) and collect the kids. We wear masks and disposable overshoe guards, and we stand ready with a towel to swoop the children up after their swim. The boys’ teachers are really lovely and give us a quick update on what’s been going on in the past half-hour, and how the children are getting on with their swimming. When we first started back, there was no expectation that the children would pick up back where they left off before lockdown. They were gently eased back into it, building up confidence and getting them to really enjoy being back in the water.
Teachers on the poolside, not in the water
Pre-covid, the Becky Adlington SwimStars teachers were in the water with the children, helping them and supporting them when necessary. In line with guidance from Swim England, when we returned to swimming, the teachers delivered the lesson from outside of the water. This adjustment means teachers can social distance whilst still having a full view of all swimmers and being able to be close enough should a swimmer need support. We were assured that all team members had completed additional training and a Covid-19 Safety Qualification.
One of the things we love about SwimStars is that the class numbers are low so that each swimmer has a personalised approach. Pre-covid, Noah was in the pool with just his friend from school in the same lesson, and James swam with another child. After covid, (at the suggestion of the SwimStars team) we swapped James’ lesson time so that he and Noah were swimming at the same time, to minimise the time we were in the building. He now enjoys one-to-one lessons with a brilliant teacher, and he has zoomed through the swimming awards during the term. You should have seen his face when he opened up the post one day with a load of certificates and badges from Becky Adlington’s SwimStars!
We really can’t wait to get back to swimming in April! We were really assured by the efforts to ensure the lessons were safe and enjoyable during the Autumn term, and hope that we can get back to swimming very soon.