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Return To Swimming Information for Swim BC Members

From Swim BC...

Since Premier Horgan’s introduction of British Columbia’s Re-Opening plan clubs, coaches, swimmers and our collective membership have been anticipating what a return to our sport might look like, and what would be entailed in securing the safety of our members and the public. The details of a return to sport were the prevalent topics of discussion for Swim BC last week as our federal and provincial governments and health authorities began to disseminate more specific information as to what is required to “re-open” sport. The purpose of this memo is to outline for the Swim BC membership what is entailed, what Swim BC is currently working on and what must be accomplished prior to any club’s return to training activity.

Before an overview of the steps Swim BC is both taking and waiting for, please note: No club training activity can be conducted without a club having a “Return to Sport” plan. This means any “in-person” coach led, or club sanctioned and/or authorized activity, whether it be land based, pool or open water, may not occur until a Return to Sport plan has been approved by the club’s Board of Directors. This approval must be made by motion at a Board meeting and appear in the societies minutes as approved.

Here are the key activities and tasks Swim BC is both attending to and waiting for, in developing the Return to Sport plan and resource. These points need to occur before clubs develop their return to sport plan.

  1. Swimming Canada has struck a Return to Sport working group to generate a national approach. The working group has generated a first draft but is many days away from presenting a final plan to the Provincial Sport Organizations (PSO’s). Swimming Canada has requested PSO’s not progress their plans until the national plan is in place.
  2. viaSport (the sport sector representation to the BC Provincial Government) has been tasked by the BC government to develop a general sport resource document that all sports must utilize to develop sport specific plans. viaSport is communicating with PSO’s and is well into the development of their plan. Once the viaSport plan is completed, it must go to the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) for review. After that review, the plan will be released to PSO’s. The viaSport plan is expected by the end of next week (end of May).
  3. Swim BC is working on the outline and some content of our plan – once we receive the Swimming Canada and viaSport plans and resources, we will focus on integrating the content into the development of a resource for all clubs to use in developing your plan. Plan specificity is important as the plan must take into consideration your facilities nuances, number of swimmers and coaches, and other various club specific elements.
  4. WorkSafe BC requires all employers to develop a COVID-19 safety plan. We will outline the elements of this plan in the Swim BC document and include the resources necessary to develop the plan as ordered by the Provincial Health Officer.
  5. BC Parks and Recreation Association has been tasked by the BC Government to act as an industry sector expert in the re-opening of recreation and sport facilities. With specific regard to aquatic facilities, the BCPRA is consulting with the Lifesaving Society of BC and the nuances regarding necessary adaptations for safety and rescue. The Recreation Facilities Association of BC is also working with the BCPRA to advise members in the development of reopening plans. viaSport is liaising with and working as the sport representative in the development of facility plans.

As you can see, there are a lot of agencies working towards a re-opening of sport and the effective development of plans as required by the BC PHO. Swim BC asks that you please exercise patience as the development of these plans and the process the PHO has put in place are accomplished. With the release of the Swim BC plan, clubs will receive further information and resources on how to implement a return to swimming plan. And a firm reminder, NO ‘IN-PERSON’ CLUB COACHING / TRAINING ACTIVITY CAN OCCUR UNTIL YOUR CLUB HAS A RETURN TO SPORT PLAN IN PLACE. THIS IS BY ORDER OF THE PROVINCIAL HEALTH OFFICER.

Open Water Training – special note must be made of the opportunities many clubs are exploring to get out into BC lakes and oceans to conduct some semblance of training activity. As per the statements above, NO OPEN WATER TRAINING MAY OCCUR UNTIL A CLUB PLAN IS IN PLACE. Swimming Canada is in the process of developing Open Water safety resources – until these documents are finalized and part of your plan, you may not conduct open water swimming session. Individual training may be pursued but the activity will not be sanctioned by Swim BC nor covered by member insurance.

Please note that it has been reported to Swim BC that club endorsed, or ‘organized’ open water training sessions have been occurring. These activities are not covered by Swim BC insurance, the risk for the activity is transferred to whomever is seen to be organizing or leading the activity. This is not a role Swim BC would recommend anyone take, and it is Swim BC’s advice to stop all activity immediately and proceed only after a plan is in place. Please also note that it is likely you will need an agreement or permission to conduct training by whomever has jurisdiction over the lake, beach, park etc. you are planning to access. It is likely they will require a Certificate of Insurance.

Insurance - there is still much dialogue and examination of the return to sport and how insurance impacts the activities. The Swim BC insurance provider is looking at specific interpretations related to “Contagion or Communicable Disease Exclusions” – all insurance policies will have this exclusion upon renewal (Dec 1 for Swim BC) however current status is unclear. Transmission of COVID-19 as a result of negligence poses risks to all members. This is why it is incredibly important to not initiate any activity until you have a plan in place. We will have clarity on our insurance and how we behave in the ‘new normal’.

The importance of patience – in a meeting last week the BC Minister responsible for sport, Lisa Beare, reiterated that sport is looked to be good community stewards in the re-opening of province. It is incredibly important that no one individual member, group, club or coach jump ahead and begin a return to sport without first having the required plans in place. One COVID-19 infection attributed to swimming activity will not only set our sports timeline for return back profoundly, it could impact the decisions being made around all youth sport.

Thank you for your attention to this very important memo. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you require more information or clarification.

Ken Radford

Swim BC Executive Director

Link to the original article posted May 19