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Swimming as a sport ‘at risk’ due to Covid-19 rules, warns Dundee club

Gerri Stanley (19) (Social Media Coordinator) and Merryn Thomson (21) (President) of Dundee University Swimming & Waterpolo Club
Gerri Stanley (19) (Social Media Coordinator) and Merryn Thomson (21) (President) of Dundee University Swimming & Waterpolo Club

Dundee students say competitive swimming in Scotland is being put at risk by Covid-19 restrictions.

Dundee University Swimming and Waterpolo Club has hit out at rules allowing only public swimming.

They say it means the future of the sport is in doubt and raised concerns about the mental health of members used to training up to seven times per week.

It comes after the club’s sessions were all cancelled when the city was plunged into Tier 3 restrictions in October.

The determined students are now spearheading national campaign #bringbackswimmingtraining.

Swimming ‘in jeopardy’

Club secretary Cameron McCloskey said he fears for swimming as a sport.

He said: “There are very damaging effects of this policy.

“Our club is struggling to get people to matriculate which is detrimental to the future of the club and its finances.

“It is not an over exaggeration to say that as these rules continue, our club is being ruined.

“On a national basis, the future of swimming is in jeopardy as less people can join in with swimming clubs.”

Current rules in Tier 3 prohibit those 18 or over from training in a club setting.

National governing body Scottish Swimming has previously questioned the need to shut pools completely in Tier 4 areas.

Two weeks ago, it said an overall rate of 0.99 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 visits to pools shows the sport is “safe”.

British Olympic swimmers such as James Guy are also voicing their support for the movement.

Mental health worries

Despite Dundee University’s pool remaining open, the club is unable to book private sessions and must swim among the public.

The situation has seen membership dwindle to around 40 — less than half who signed up last year.

Club president Merryn Thomson, 21, a fourth year Physiological Sciences student from Aberdeenshire said: “Swimming is a stress release and it’s the main form of exercise for many of us.

“The main thing we are worried about is the mental health of students.”

She added: “I feel it’s actually worse swimming among the public.

“We are competitive swimmers so there is a huge difference in speed.

“That’s not the fault of members of the public at all.

“We can understand water polo not going ahead just now but we can’t understand why swimming training is not allowed as well.”

Decisions based on ‘clinical evidence’

A Scottish Government spokesperson said officials recognise how “disappointing” the limitations can be but stressed they are currently necessary.

She said: “We recognise this has been an enormously challenging time for sports and we appreciate the support of the sporting sector over the past months to help us tackle the virus.

“We appreciate the benefits sport and physical activity brings to physical and mental health and that any restrictions on club swimming will be disappointing for those who like to undertake this activity.

“However, any restrictions are necessary to suppress the transmission of the virus in high prevalence areas.

“Our approach and principles remain as set out in our Framework for Decision Making, based on clinical evidence, expert advice, and a balanced assessment of the risks.

“We will continue to review our position and provide updates when appropriate.”

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