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Everyone in the pool!

Outdoor swimming pool at Testbourne school.

Outdoor swimming pool at Testbourne school in Whitchurch, Hampshire.

Our children’s primary school is offering swimming lessons to year 4 students using the nearby Testbourne school’s outdoor pool. Fantastic!

In their letter to parents, our school said, “If your child has a verruca, a sock may be needed. Please note that it is Hampshire’s policy that children are not allowed to wear goggles whilst swimming.”

I wondered: Why do Hampshire County Council not want children to wear goggles? And what effect will wearing a sock over a wart have?

Curious about that, I asked the council and did a bit of research myself – a Google goggle search! 🙂

Here’s what I found out…

Verruca Socks

Verrucas are warts that generally form on the feet and it can take weeks or even months for them to appear after being infected – so says the NHS Choices website (HERE).

British Swimming state (HERE) that the “use of devices, such as plastic socks, to protect the feet should be discouraged.”

Why do they discourage their use when the Council suggests to use them?

Reading further, British Swimming state: “the socks have limited value other than of attracting attention. The use of a waterproof plaster is sufficient.”

That’s pretty similar to Hampshire county’s Children’s Services department who got back to me with this statement:

“There is a very low incidence of cross infection… If the wearing of plastic socks is the only way to allay public anxiety, these should be available at the swimming pool.”

Public anxiety?

As there’s no major medical concern regarding verrucas, then I admit that I prefer the NHS Choices official recommendation:

“Common methods of treatment include…duct tape”

Duct Tape! Who knew? Fabulous! It’s the Canadian Handyman‘s Secret Weapon, don’t you know!


Our kids have been wearing goggles for years at their swim lessons each Saturday morning – since age 3! – so I was intrigued as to why swim lessons in Hampshire schools should treat goggle wearing differently.

Children’s Services referred me to their policy document – page 131 section 11.6.2 if you’re keen – which they say says:

“Goggles should only be worn where there is evidence that pool chemicals are causing discomfort long after the lesson, as the need for children and young people to lift goggles each time the teacher wants eye contact is in itself a distraction.”

Rub a dub dub - everyone in the pool!

Andrew’s attempt at swim lessons – with and without goggles.

Every swimming pool has (varying amounts) of chlorine so I thought eye discomfort might well occur to most; and I didn’t really get the bit about having to lift goggles to see the teacher.

If Hampshire’s policy said something like, “Goggles aren’t generally permitted because, to be honest, they are a right pain in the bottom for inexperienced children to fit and adjust themselves; and the whole sorting out business delays the start of lessons”, then I’d have accepted that.

But they didn’t, so I asked for clarification and, while waiting for a reply, I searched British Swimming website some more.

Here’s what British Swimming say about goggles:

It’s vital children are comfortable swimming with or without goggles so they don’t panic in an unexpected situation. To do this they need to learn to swim without goggles.

That sounds fair advice. I hope that Hampshire County consider telling parents that reason in the future!

In my family’s case, our kids have already learned to swim both with and without goggles. Frankly, I think the instructor will probably set our son to swim a kilometre while they get on with training the never-been-in-the-water-before children, in which case this statement from British Swimming makes sense:

The decision to allow swimming goggles during lessons is down to the individual teacher, so speak to yours.

Children’s Services kindly followed-up with me fairly quickly; They said, “It is not the responsibility of a teacher to fit or adjust students (sic) goggles.”

Fair enough, too, and that is pretty close to the hypothetical quote I made above; but then they said:

Students learning to swim, or improving their ability, often do not swim in straight lines, become close together and clash heads or hit each other with arms while swimming, causing more severe injuries if goggles are worn.

Wow! I think goggles might be the least of the worries! 🙂

Now, everyone in the pool!

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