THE Chief of Swim England has warned that somes pools could close permanently without government support.

Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, estimated only 20% of pools would be opening on Saturday - the first day pools have been allowed to open since lockdown was announced.

She made the comments as the Government announced a fresh drive to tackle obesity in a bid to minimise the impact of future waves of Covid-19.

Ms Nickerson said: "They haven't had any money over the last three months at all."

She added: "They probably won't be doing swimming lessons to start with and they will be doing lane swimming with less people, which means they can't afford to open.

"Without some Government support, I think a lot of pools will fail to open this year or if ever."

The head of Swim England warned that even before Covid-19 hit, the UK was facing losing 40% of its pool stock by the end of this decade.

Ms Nickerson added: "It will have a massive impact on both our elite, our club swimmers and the health of the nation - we know that swimming saves the NHS and social care system £357 million a year.

"We know every single pool returns around £7.2 million in community benefits - in social cohesion, crime prevention, education attainment and health benefits - so a little bit of support now from the Government will have its payback within months.

"It is not like it's asking for money that just gets thrown away - by tackling the health and obesity crisis in the pool, it actually saves a lot of money."

She added: "One of our biggest, biggest fears is that there will be a lost generation of children this year who don't learn to swim."