Inter-school swimming returned to Dubai last week as Hartland International School hosted Kings’ School Al Barsha in a meeting to test new safety protocols surrounding school swimming.
It was the first swim gala in over 18 months as schools continue to adapt to the post-pandemic way of life as school sport begins to remerge from Covid-19 restrictions which halted it for so long. Students from Year 5 & 6 attended the meeting as Kings’ School Al Barsha visited Hartland on Thursday.
Niall Statham, Head of Physical Education at Hartland International School, was delighted to see students back in the pool for some competitive inter-school racing. With such a long lay-off the athletes could be forgiven for looking a little rusty but Statham says quite the opposite was true.
Statham said: “It was brilliant to see the students back competing with their friends again after such a long break from the action. Although, you would never think it from the side of the pool, the standard was so high and both sets of swimmers really were a credit to their schools.”
With lots of new rules and regulations surrounding school sport in Dubai, last week’s gala was a chance for both sets of teachers and students to get a feel for how things will work as fixtures and sports meetings begin to become more commonplace throughout the academic year.
“The gala was organised to test out a series of protocols that will be used to facilitate the return of inter-school swimming galas. After spending a long time drafting them and looking how to make things as safe as possible, we were absolute delighted with the event on the day, everything ran exactly as expected.”
With a successful first test event at Hartland on Thursday, Statham believes it could prove to be an important step on the road to a more regular return of swimming meets and sports fixtures more widely.
“I certainly feel extremely confident after the gala, that these events can resume safely without sacrificing the fun and competitive elements that students have missed so much. The protocols will go back to the DASSA committee now, and we hope to run a second gala soon after the half term.
“We aren’t quite ready for the full swimming league format yet but our next step is to expand the gala format and look at including a third school, which will bring more competition and variety to the events. I don’t think it will be long until schools are running galas every term, albeit on a smaller scale for the time being.”
A huge well done to all school staff and participating students who made last week’s swimming gala possible – it’s great to see students putting their hard work into practice in the pool, on the field and on the court and we look forward to sharing more stories as fixtures continue to adapt and develop this year.