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Carers on poolside during disabled swimmer sessions

A local club wants to have carers on the poolside during disabled swimmer sessions.

We have discussed this situation in relation to COVID-19 and social distancing and it raises a number of points. Swim England guidance is that spectator areas need to be reviewed and reconfigured to ensure social distancing is adhered to.  Depending on the size of the spectator area, access to the area will need to be reviewed. Where maintaining social distancing in the spectator area is problematic alternative ways to manage the viewing and consider closing spectator areas.

One of the team knows the pool layout and agrees with you that the narrow poolside does not readily lend itself to having any spectators there.  The main question is ‘Do carers actually have to be there?’  What do they bring to the swimming experience once bathers are in the water?

If a carer is essential to a bather’s swimming needs, they would be needed in the water?  There would need to be a case for them being there but otherwise, the bathers are under the direction of the teacher, coach or whoever is running the session.

We are presuming that the session is being led and run by a qualified ASA or STA teacher with the relevant disability discipline and equally, imagine that few, if any of the carers, will have lifeguard or teacher training.

Having carers on the poolside can cause visual obstructions for lifeguards who then may not have a clear view of the whole of the pool basin and will almost certainly, on a narrow poolside, block access.  In the event of an emergency there will undoubtedly be obstructions to easy and rapid movement.  Whilst there is potentially a case, in an emergency, for carers to be there to assist, they can easily and quickly be brought back to the poolside to work with but under the guidance of the lifeguards on duty.

It is a difficult one as we do not want to be seen to be unsupportive but at the same time, we have to consider current guidance and the wider issues of having clear access around the pool.  There is also a prevailing opinion that, for taught sessions, parents should not be in close proximity to a class as they cause distractions and interruptions and we feel that this may possibly be the case here.

HSG179 is not much help here unfortunately as it deals with disability but more from an enablement perspective.

We would suggest you start the discussion by asking the questions posed above and see what answers you get back.  If, having had feedback from the group, you want to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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