'Frightening but in a good way': Northampton Swimming Club ready to get back in water when indoor pools reopen

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Director of swimming welcomes Government announcement after criticism for not doing it sooner

Northampton Swimming Club members are looking forward to getting back in the water when indoors pools reopen from July 25.

Last week the Government announced outdoor pools can reopen from Saturday (July 11) while interior facilities have to wait another two weeks.

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Director of swimming Jacquie Marshall had criticised the decision not to allow pools to reopen from July 4 so she was glad they now have a date to work towards.

Northampton Swimming Club's British nationals squadNorthampton Swimming Club's British nationals squad
Northampton Swimming Club's British nationals squad

"It's frightening but in a good way - it gives us just over two weeks' notice but we have been planning for a return for a while," she told the Chronicle & Echo.

"We had the date set for July 4 and that created quite a bit of disappointment for us but we already started all our planning.

"Swim England's guidance for returning to swimming has been out since June so we've been putting our protocols in place for that so we knew what we had to do."

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Two swimming pools have confirmed the club can use them from July 25 so Jacquie hopes all its members will get a chance to get back in the water that week.

Northampton Swimming Club director of swimming Jacquie MarshallNorthampton Swimming Club director of swimming Jacquie Marshall
Northampton Swimming Club director of swimming Jacquie Marshall

The return is vital for both the members, some of whom are training for next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the club which relies on fees to survive.

Jacquie said: "It's not just the sport, which very important and we're very passionate about it, but the longer this goes on, in the same way as any other business or industry, the worse it gets.

"We have been closed which is significant as we're a not-for-profit so it makes life extremely difficult but we've worked hard to sort that out.

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"Our club is very different from smaller clubs around the county and country - we have got operating costs that have to be paid while our income has been reduced.

"So to make our club sustainable we need to be back in the water, one for the sport which we're passionate about, but also for the club as we're using our reserves to fund ourselves during the lockdown and we run a tight budget so it's important we're back."

Despite lockdown, swimming club members have been keeping busy with regular Zoom calls for exercises, life skills classes and quizzes.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden made the announcement about pools on Thursday (June 9) while Jacquie was teaching one group to make toad in the hole, causing a lot of cheers.

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Around 10 per cent of members will not be returning, which Jacquie is saddened by but a high number of enquiries to join the club has encouraged her.

The club runs sessions for 750 people a week, from toddlers to the elderly and skills ranging from recreational swimmers to potential Olympic and Paralympic medal winners.

"It's important to be back in the way as it would be the final preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics but they've been postponed so we're starting that again," she said.

"While our swimmers are desperate to get back in the water, I hope the competitions start again as they will struggle to know what they are training for.

"But we're thinking outside the box and doing some things in-house to keep that competitive edge so they carry enjoying their sport which is really important."

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