A North East organisation is hitting out at the imminent blanket closure of swimming pools, warning it has the potential to harm the mental health of its young members.

Sunderland City Dive Team has worked hard to keep its divers – aged between six and 18 – in the water and believes it is the safest environment in which to exercise.

But now the divers are in despair, having been told pools are to close as part of the latest lockdown.

Adele Graham-King, chair of the Sunderland organisation, believes there is no scientific basis to support the closure of our pools – and that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

“You can not get more socially distanced than diving,” said Adele.

“There’s only one person at a time on the board and the children are in and out of chlorinated water. We are used to social distancing so it couldn’t be safer.’’

“There have been very, very few Covid-19 related cases linked with swimming pools and we feel that this is such an unfair decision.”

Adele said her group – which has had to travel to Tynemouth in order to dive since the shutting down of Sunderland Aquatic Centre – had done everything to keep operating.

“Our children are literally on their knees,” she said.

“Their mental health is in pieces and their physical health will suffer massively.

“We operate in the safest environment and our children’s welfare is being neglected by another pool closure.”

Adele added that what is happening at her club is echoed around the country, where young people who love to dive are now banned from getting in the water.

“We have supported all of the Swim England measures but we are still having to tell our children that they can’t go diving for another month,” she said.

“That means another month where children will be sent to their bedrooms or stuck on devices when they could be doing activities that are so important for their physical and mental health.

“We have achieved so many things in these difficult circumstances, but we really believe there is no reason why pools can’t stay open for organisations like ours.”

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