Getting back to a Post Lockdown Swim.

My observations, by Monica Ilett

It’s been 147 days or 21 weeks since all the Vivacity fitness and sports facilities in Peterborough closed completely in response to the Government’s Covid Pandemic lockdown policies. It’s been a tough time for many being isolated so suddenly from friends and relatives. Struggling to get shopping, trying to stay active with such restrictions. Social media and the internet suddenly became so essential to our lives. Using youtube to learn new skills. Mastering video calls to stay in touch with relatives. Shopping online for those items you’d normally pop into the shops for. Children doing their schooling and communicating with their teachers from home online.

Lockdown hasn’t been kind to me and to many others. I struggled to keep any sort of fitness with no swimming. I missed the exercise and I missed our coffee and natter sessions post-swim. My mobility took a dive and joints slowly got creakier with by my back leading the way. For some time now the pain levels in the joints have dictated the level of exercise I can take. Then my British stiff upper lip wavered and all too soon the damn broke and morale hit rock bottom. Pass the tissues!

When the Government finally relaxed the restrictions on pools and gyms we waited with baited breath….Until on the 11th of AugustVivacity and the Council announced that the Regional Fitness centre announced they were opening up on Monday 17 August.

The pool, of course would be restricting admissions and things would be very different. Now a swim had to be booked either by phone or preferably through the Vivacity website or the App. Booking started on the 14th and it proved quite straight forward to book. I used the website. All the new Covid prevention instructions were there. You need to arrive ‘Beach ready”

Mmm…OK..right… towel, deckchair, sandwiches, lemonade, Beach umbrella. Dress tucked into knickers ready for a paddle…well that’s my version of beach-ready!!! Oh, OK then, I’ll arrive at the venue with me cossie under me clothes. So a swim session was booked and the booking session printed out I arrived slightly nervous about whether I’d manage all the stages to get into the pool.

The entrance to the reception was all marked out with the socially distance spaces. Everyone needs to go through reception. You’re then logged in as being in the building. This also covers the Government Test and Trace requirements. Swimmers are given a wrist band for which area of the pool you’ve booked. The lift can be used but only one person or one household can use the lift at a time. At the changing room door, you need to remove shoes or put on overshoes and go straight to poolside to remove your outer clothes. Chairs line the poolside for your belongings.

Getting into the water was just bliss. Your swim is only booked for 45 minutes by but after no real exercise for such a long time 25 minutes was enough for the first swim. The main pool is divided into three wide lanes, fast, medium and slow, swimming is clockwise. Apparently management is allowing a maximum of 10 swimmers per lane and 15 swimmers in the diving pit. The first two sessions of 07.30 and 08.30 am are the busiest time then the sessions are far quieter.

Leaving the pool, wristbands are dropped into a container of sterilising fluid before entering the changing area via the second door. Showers and lockers are not in use as the cleaning of each locker and shower cubicle after each use would not be possible. After drying and dressing you leave the building straight away and the areas used are sanitised before the next booked session arrive.

The whole of the building was subjected to a thorough deep clean from a specialist firm before opening. With such a massive change in operational policies there are bound to be teething problems but on the whole all appears to be running smoothly with small glitches being sorted out quickly. One negative I noted was from the entrance to poolside I only noted one small bottle of hand sanitiser and as it was not in a prominent position no-one appeared to be using it. Another concern is about masks inside the building as there doesn’t seem to be any policy about these. I can also see a problem developing as the weather turns cold and wintery. The queuing system to book in will need to be rethought. The reception area is only laid out for one person to operate and there can only be two people in the area dealing with the customers coming in. It a slow method of getting people through the door and people will not be happy queuing outside in the cold wet weather. Let’s hope these issues can be resolved.

In conclusion, getting back into the water was different but oh so welcome. How long all these restrictions will be necessary is anyone’s guess but for now, we just need to accept and adapt to them

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