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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) has activated a list of protocols approved by the country’s health ministry as the body resumes activity at the club level.

Vice President of pool-based swimming, Darren Derrick, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, revealed that the protocols suggested by the federation were approved and accepted by the authorities.

“About a week ago, we presented our protocols to the Ministry of Sports as well as the Ministry of Health for their approval and we were given the green light for a phased approached towards returning swimming to the pool as well as the open water, so right now the Vipers Aquatic Club is open and following protocols. The other clubs which normally swim at the Athletic Club, they are doing open water training on the beaches, based on the protocols we’ve put in place or suggested, and hopefully when the club opens next week, then those pool-based swimmers would be able to resume,” he said.

Derrick, who was elected at the body’s last general election in 2018, explained that although swimming is more or less an individual sport, stringent measures have been adapted to minimise risk of exposure to both athletes and officials.

“Phase one, we are following other protocols and other social distancing [guidelines] so there is one swimmer per lane, except if you have swimmers from the same household, and then we are allowing up to two swimmers per lane in the outside lane only; so maximum in the pool for training is eight at any one time,” he said.

“We have suggested to the clubs that they limit each [session] to an hour for a variety of reasons and mainly because we only have that few swimmers per lane, and they would need to rotate quicker. The other reason is that we are trying to limit the uses of public facilities, such as washrooms, so hopefully the kids can hold it for an hour and then move on rather than having to come out and use the public facilities and creating an even greater risk of exposure,” he added.

The VP assured that the federation is constantly monitoring the situation and will make adjustments where necessary.

“Obviously, we can only get feedback, from a pool-based standpoint, from Vipers team but we have been getting feedback from the other coaches based on the beach training which has been going very well, very structured and organised. I must give compliments to the coaches for doing an excellent job in keeping social distancing, keeping it very compact in terms of the timeframe. For people, when they come there they have markers on the beach with social distancing for them to put down their gear and maintain their distance from the other swimmers and then they go into the water to train,” Derrick said.

Last week, the Cabinet lifted restrictions from both swimming and tennis, stating that both sports were free to resume activities. They join golf and cycling as two other sports to have had restrictions lifted by the government.

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