Banbury mum spearheads national study into safety of children’s exercise in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

A Banbury mum and baby swim school owner leads national study into the safety of children’s exercise of swimming in wake of Covid-19 pandemic
Water Babies teachers in pool Jan 2020 (submitted photo)Water Babies teachers in pool Jan 2020 (submitted photo)
Water Babies teachers in pool Jan 2020 (submitted photo)

Although it had been speculated to have a tangible effect, there has been very little empirical research into the effect chlorine in swimming pools has on Covid-19.

Wanting to change this, local mum and baby swim school owner, Tamsin Brewis, has been the catalyst for some ground-breaking scientific research at Imperial College London (ICL). The research has managed to prove the deadly deactivation that chlorine causes to Covid-19.

The study confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, is susceptible to deactivation by chlorine in swimming pool water. The efficiency of deactivation is extreme – once exposed to chlorine for just 30 seconds, the virus is at least a thousand times less infectious.

The study also found that by manipulating the pH level of the chlorine, as well as its density in the water to be at specific levels, you can create a swimming pool environment which has the greatest efficiency and effectivity at killing the virus. Essentially, when tailoring the chlorine for optimum deactivation, the risk of infection is reduced to almost negligible levels.

The study came about after Tamsin, who runs her Water Babies swim school from Middleton Road, and her network of teachers noticed parents were still unsure about the safety of swimming in the current Covid environment.

Tamsin was concerned that parents were assuming swimming to be an unsafe vocational activity, as the natural conclusion would be that free water in swimming pools will facilitate the spread of the virus.

Along with Professor Wendy Barclay and the team at ICL’s Department of Infectious Disease, Water Babies wanted to set the record straight and prove that swimming pools were safe environments. Taking matters into their own hands, Tamsin and other representatives from the national Water Babies group offered to support and champion the all-important research project.

She said: "I’m passionate about this because I know of the incredible benefits swimming gives people, including young children. Swimming is good for the mind - it improves mood and cognitive function - it’s obviously good for the body; for children it develops spatial skills and muscles. Swimming is such a positive outlet. That’s why I couldn’t bare for people to miss out and why we all felt we needed to do something.

“As swimming teachers, we knew the effects chlorine would have on a virus like Covid, but we understand it’s not something people would immediately recognise, especially as Covid can live for a relatively long time in unchlorinated water. We came to realise that an assumption made by many people is that the virus will also be easily transferred in pool water. We’re so happy to have disproved this and now we’re desperate to share these findings with everyone.”

Tamsin’s swim school has certainly been an agent for change in the last few months. The team’s efforts over a fortnight in October saw Tamsin’s Water Babies Bucks and Beds region raise over £24,000 for the baby loss prevention charity, Tommy’s. Water Babies nationally has managed to raise £4,760,000 for Tommy’s over the last decade and a half.

Tamsin has thoroughly enjoyed playing a role in aiding the research at ICL, and is determined to keep getting involved with righteous causes with her Water Babies colleagues.

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