Swimmers unhappy they’re not allowed back into the pools


  • Swimming
  • Wednesday, 10 Jun 2020

Bad times: Former national swimmer Leung Chii Lin says those who operate swimming academies are bleeding financially.

PETALING JAYA: Gyms, snooker centres and indoor sports venues like futsal and badminton courts can reopen from next Monday. However, all swimming pools, even those at residential condominiums, remain off limits.

And those in the swimming industry can’t help but feel let down by the situation.

The Youth and Sports Ministry have only given an exemption to swimmer Welson Sim to train at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil as he is under the Road to Tokyo programme.

He will have Sebastian Soon and Khiew Hoe Yean for company and sparring.

Former Olympian freestyle swimmer Leung Chii Lin, who now runs a swimming academy in the city, is hoping the ministry will listen to their voices.

“Swimming is an essential sport which can save people’s lives and does not involve any mass gathering or even body contact. Most sports have been allowed to resume training but not swimming.

“All of us who operate swimming academies are bleeding financially. We have had no income since the middle of March.

“We have been paying coaches only half their monthly salaries as we have overhead costs like rental and maintenance.

“Many swimming instructors are doing part-time jobs like food deliveries.

“I hope the ministry can allow the swimming industry to resume, but with SOPs in place, of course.

“There is no evidence that Covid-19 virus can be transmitted through water. Chlorine in the pool water will also kill the virus. We already have a good SOP planned to resume swimming classes with no contact,” said the Sabah-born swimmer, who represented the country at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Former SEA Games gold medallist Kevin Yeap, who is now the Perak swimming coach, hoped to be allowed back into pool training.

“We were hoping to start as soon as possible as with the exemptions given to sports activities to resume in the country. But then we found out it is still not possible to return to the pool.

“Three months is not good as you lose that feeling in the water and be out of shape.

“Many countries have reopened swimming pools with SOPs in place. I know Thailand have allowed their swimmers to train but separated by lanes and with the coaches wearing masks.

“Hopefully, the authorities will reconsider allowing us back into the pool,” said the former top national middle and long distance swimmer.
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