Strict new swimming rules kick in today
Swim coaches to use face shields, physical contact allowed for safety reasons
Swimming classes are set to resume under strict guidelines today, as the nation moves to phase two of the post-circuit breaker period.
Besides temperature checks, required use of contact tracing apps and limits on the size of groups and the capacity of venues - which are applicable to all sporting facilities that are allowed to reopen today - there are some rules specific to pools.
They include the use of face shields for coaches, a cap of five swimmers per lane and staggered timings for public pool usage for senior citizens, the general public and swim school students.
Broadly, national sports agency Sport Singapore's (SportSG) guidelines are less stringent than those proposed by the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) earlier this month - which include a cap of one swimmer per lane, class sizes of at most two students and contact between coaches and students prohibited - with a parent or caregiver from the same household allowed in the pool to guide beginners.
Currently, groups of up to five students are permitted, as is contact between coaches and students, with SportSG saying: "Instructors may adopt the most appropriate position and distance in the interest of water safety."
Former Olympian and director of X Lab swim school Mark Chay, who previously told The New Paper that under SSA's proposed guidelines, it might be tough to have learn to swim (LTS) classes , is pleased with SportSG's advisory and is likely to resume lessons from next week.
Said the 37-year-old: "I'm perfectly happy with the guidelines. I thought when SSA came up with those guidelines, they were very safe and I was comfortable with that. With what SportSG has rolled out, I have nothing to complain about."
Jerry Toh, who owns swim school-tuition centre The Water Family Enrichment Centre, is taking a cautious approach when he resumes lessons today. He will start mainly with one-on-one sessions and inform his students to shower at home and avoid the changing rooms at pools.
While toilets and changing rooms will be open, SportSG's advisory noted: "Swimmers are encouraged to wipe dry after swimming, and put on their attire without accessing changing rooms."
Toh, 35, said that around 30 of his more than 100 students will return to the pool over the next week, saying: "I plan to start off small first and see if we can manage...
"The pandemic is not over yet. We still have to be vigilant and play our part. The last thing anyone wishes to see is a second wave."
Not everyone believes the restrictions, which have allowed pools to reopen, are worth the hassle.
Ben Tan's two daughters attended lessons before the circuit breaker measures kicked in on April 7 to curb the spread of Covid-19. When told of the new guidelines, which include dissuading the use of shower facilities, the 44-year-old said: "It's too much trouble seriously, swimming lessons can wait until these restrictions are lifted in phase three or later."
Jacqueline Chan, director of Odysseus Aquatics swim school, meanwhile, will conduct classes at private pools from next weekend instead, so she would not have to adhere to the 9am-6pm window for classes at public pools.
It would be easier for her to conduct back-to-back lessons at less crowded private pools than public pools, where the maximum capacity, along with all other sports facilities, is 50 people, or 10 sqm per person, whichever is lower.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu addressed concerns on venue capacity during a Facebook Live session yesterday, saying that this is just for the beginning.
"So let's start with this. A cap on 50 in each facility and if we're able to manage this well, I'm sure we'll get to a larger capacity in due course,"she said.