Getting back into the swimming pools safely.

The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) held a dialogue session over conferencing platform ZOOM with 50 affiliates to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on 1 June 2020.

During the two-hour townhall meeting, the affiliates shared on the challenges faced during this uncertain period – from competitive athlete training and learn to swim programmes – and exchanged ideas on how to enhance safety and health considerations.

The SSA also provided suggested guidelines on safe distancing for Aquatic sports in anticipation of pools-reopening in Phase 2 that has been presented to national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSg).

The affiliates expressed interest to work together to ensure that it will be completely safe to return to the water and to give every potential swimmer the confidence to return to the pools enthusiastically but safely.

Mark James, from Tanglin Club, said “The townhall was a worthwhile engagement for swim affiliates, coaches, business owners to share views and possible solutions as to how collectively we get our community and fraternity back in the water post circuit breaker.”

One of the concerns highlighted during the session was the Learn To Swim programme, which affects a majority of the swim coaches here in Singapore.

Sumiko Tan of Stitude Swim School, said, “The session was effective in gathering feedback and responses from the ground and in direct relation to people who are affected. There is not much clarity so far for the community at large for Learn to Swim (LTS).”

She added, “LTS at public pools affect a huge number of coaches’ livelihood, especially in public pool and group classes.

“And if it is to be resumed at a much later stage, many coaches will not be able to survive given the financial strain. We sincerely hope that resuming of LTS classes can be considered in greater thought to protect the livelihood of coaches, at the same time, protect the health and safety of each individual.”

SSA’s secretary-general Bervyn Lee said that sport, recreation and training, while understandable for some level of normalcy in Phase 2, it does however prolong “the challenges that the Aquatics fraternity is facing.”

“The SSA understands that during this Covid-19 pandemic, many lives and business have been disrupted here in Singapore. Circuit breaker measures were put in place in April and have since extended through to July. More recently the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced a 3-phased approach to re-open the economy and gradually brings things back to some semblance of normality.  Sport, recreation, and training are scheduled for Phase 2. While this might be understandable from the government’s perspective, it also prolongs the challenges that the Aquatics fraternity is facing”, said Bervyn Lee, SSA Secretary-General.

“The SSA, in close consultation with the government, believes that there is a need to come together as one, for our sport, our athletes and as a community. The dialogue session held with the affiliates allowed us to listen to the challenges faced, provide an avenue for the exchange of ideas and share proposals that have been considered”, he added.

The SSA also put up some proposals to help the affiliates during this period, including exploring with the affiliates ideas to reduce some costs and get help through the grants offered by the government, continuing to run courses for learning and upgrading, such as CoachSSA and TeachSSA courses.

Former National Swimmers, Ang Peng Siong and Mark Chay, who run Aquatic Performance Swim Club and XLab respectively, were optimistic about the direction taken.

“The SSA townhall session was definitely a positive step to connect with the ground and the aquatic stakeholders. Together we can come out of this challenging times stronger”, said Ang.

“It was great to see the fraternity come together to discuss on issues affecting us and how we can work together as a community during this period. I look forward to the reopening of the swimming pools”, echoed Chay.

Photo: SSA

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