ONE of Scotland’s elite swimmers has called on the Scottish Government to reopen swimming pools across the country.

This week saw some of the most drastic changes to lockdown life in Scotland, with the reopening of the tourism sector, indoor pubs, hairdressers, cinemas and restaurants.

However, many people feel the Scottish Government has ignored calls for leisure centres to reopen. 

National-level swimmer Mhairi Swanson says that “it seems very much like it’s pubs before pools”.

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She told the BBC: "I personally don't think it seems like getting sports back up and running is a priority and to me that's quite concerning.

"I mean, are we seriously aspiring to be a nation of shoppers and drinkers? The prioritisation of drinking and alcoholism before exercise and physical wellbeing says a lot about Scotland's culture".

So when will swimming pools open, and what changes will take place?

What do we know so far?

Outdoor swimming in Scotland was permitted from Phase One, on May 29, along with other activities such as golf and hiking.

But indoor pools – alongside leisure centres and gyms – remain closed.

We told you at the start of the month how Glasgow Life gyms are set to reopen from August 17 – with many other likely to follow suit around that time.

Speaking on July 9, the First Minister said: There are other activities which are included in the phase 3 of the route map that we are not yet able to attach a firm and specific date to”.

She added that it is likely these will not reopen before July 31– so it looks like we will have to wait until August to get into a swimming pool.

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What is it like elsewhere?

In England, outdoor pools were able to reopen on July 11, with indoor pools opening their doors on July 25.

What has the Scottish Government said?

The Scottish government said it was working towards the reopening of pools, gyms and indoor sports courts.

A spokesman said: "In order to make reopening possible we are currently developing national guidance on protocols to ensure that physical distancing and hygiene measures can be observed. 

"We are thinking carefully about these matters on an ongoing basis and, unfortunately, there are particular challenges for gyms and swimming pools in particular, in relation to confined and poorly ventilated changing facilities and the higher risk of transmission through perspiration.

"We will continue our assessment and provide an update on opening dates as soon as possible."

What changes will there be?

The Scottish Government will likely publish guidance in advance of the reopening of swimming pools, but a quick look south of the border gives us an idea of what to expect.

Swim England has included a range of documents, including for individual swimmers and group swimming.

For indivudal users:

Booking.You should always check the website or social media channels before going to your pool for timetables, and book a slot in the pool if necessary. 

Do not go swimming if you show any Covid-symptoms.This includes a temperature, new and persistent cough, loss of taste and/or smell. 

Arrive ‘pool ready’. To reduce time spent in changing areas, consider arriving with your swimsuit under your clothes and ready to swim. Once you have finished your swim, leave the venue as soon as you can.  

Shower at home and spend as little time in the changing room as possible. Pre and post-swim showers should be conducted at home (even if facilities are open at the pool).

Bring your own equipment. Take any equipment/aids with you (floats, kick boards etc.) ensuring it is clean and identifiable as yours before you arrive. And bring hand sanitiser.

Follow guidance on the duration of swim. Your swimming pool might implement slot times to ensure social distancing is adhered to and the maximum number of people can make use of the pool. If they do, follow their guidance on this.

Respect other pool users. People of different standards and abilities will use the pool. Please respect their right to enjoy their swim. Do not make physical contact with other participants. 

Be mindful about your speed and no overtaking. Choose your lane using the fast, medium and slow signs and by watching those already swimming. Please do not overtake whilst swimming. Before pushing off at each turn, check to see if anyone faster is approaching. 

Direction. Please follow the directional signs and move across to the appropriate side of the lane for each length. 

Social distance in the water. Always attempt to maintain appropriate social distance between yourself and another swimmer. 

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If you are taking part in a swimming lesson with other people then ensure the following:

Your teacher or coach participates from the pool side. The guidance says when delivering swimming lessons teachers and assistant teachers should deliver from the poolside.

Allowing sufficient gaps between classes. Your usual class might be re-timetabled to ensure there is sufficient time between other classes in order to stop crowds building up in changing rooms or pool-side.

Any shared equipment should be sanitised after each use. Although it is recommended you bring your own floats and other equipment, if you do share during a class – then ensure it is cleaned before and after.