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Swim England turns weighing athletes’ guidance into policy

Swim England turns weighing athletes’ guidance into policy

Swim England is to ban the weighing of children at its clubs after swimmers spoke out about suffering eating disorders and mental health issues.

Swim England has taken the first steps to turn existing guidance into policy following a commitment made in its safeguarding, welfare and culture plan. Swim England introduced guidelines around weighing in November 2021 but announced recently it would become policy that "all affiliated clubs and coaches must comply with".

The policy covers all aquatic disciplines, and states athletes under the age of 18 should not be weighed, unless they are on a nationally supported talent pathway. It also states those on the talent pathway, and athletes aged over 18, can be weighed but this should ‘only be undertaken with clearly documented reasoning, specific to that athlete, and with the athlete’s optimal long-term development in mind’.

Olympic medallist Cassie Patten, who says she was left "broken" following comments by coaches, welcomed the move. She said: “There have been too many instances in the past of unacceptable behaviour around weighing athletes and this policy sets out the parameters to prevent that inappropriate conduct happening in the future. 

Performance is a key part of an athlete’s development but we also need to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing.”

Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Phoebe Lenderyou said she had suffered bulimia for five years after being repeatedly weight-shamed as a young athlete.

Swim England recently published its Heart of Aquatics plan, in which it sets out its aim to put safeguarding and welfare at the heart of the sport following several swimmers coming forward to say they had been harmed.

To view the Weighing Aquatic Athletes Policy, please click here.

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