Sport & Exercise

Back on track for Olympics trials

University of Edinburgh performance swimmers delight in getting back to training at St Leonard's Land Swimming pool

“For everyone, there are many stories about how the lockdown impacted them! For us, it came 3 weeks before what would have been our Olympic trials, throwing into doubt years of preparation and hard work of our athletes. Only once the Olympics had officially been rescheduled to 2021 and other nations returned to training, did it become apparent that we needed to return our professional athletes to training as soon as possible also. This is where colleagues from across Sport & Exercise, the Estates and Health & Safety teams came into their own. Recognising the importance of this small window of opportunity and providing incredible and unwavering support for our athletes, their efforts enabled us to return to training. As a group, we were fully aware of the huge undertaking that this required, balancing facility preparations, with risk mitigation and with ever-changing government and sport governing body guidelines. It was clear the very robust and excellent ‘Guiding Principles’ put in place by the University, together with the exceptional amount of energy by the Sport & Exercise team allowed us to deliver on our promise, of providing an outstanding experience, to those athletes who were approved by the Scottish Government to return to the water. It is because of this energy and exceptional teamwork that we are and remain, extremely grateful to everyone who played a part.


We were able to return to training at the start of July, for 12 identified athletes by Sport Scotland and Scottish Swimming. This was definitely a new world for us and there was an understandable degree of anxiety, having not been in close proximity with each other for so long. However, the procedures put into place gave us confidence and allowed us to all feel safe and supported from the very start. Before the athletes arrive at the pool they are required to complete an online health questionnaire with clearance being approved by Sport Scotland physiologist Mike McKenna. Assuming no ‘flags’ have been raised, the athlete proceeds to the pool where they are asked further profiling questions and have their temperature checked and recorded by the Sport & Exercise Duty Manager. Each training session lasts 2 hours and accommodates up to 6 athletes at a time.

From a coaching point of view, it is a new way of working but one that we are thriving in and seeing many new positive opportunities for working with athletes. The athletes have all been so incredible in adapting to this new way and we are hugely excited for what 2021 might bring UofE swimming” Matthew Trodden - Depute Head Coach (Swimming), University Sport and Exercise.

The renewal of St.Leonard’s has allowed us to have an elite training base in Edinburgh. Without the reopening, it would have resulted in a further 6 weeks of commuting through to the National Swim Academy (Stirling) for me. None of this would be possible without all the support and work behind the scenes from the University of Edinburgh and Scottish swimming.  They have allowed us to safely return to the pool and start working towards 2021. Being back in the pool brings back some sort of normality after a strange couple of months

Lucy Hope

Being back in the pool at St Leonard’s has been amazing so far! It’s great to be getting my fitness and technique back to pre-lockdown levels, and so good to be back training with my team. I feel very lucky to be back in the water and I’m very grateful to everyone at UofE sport for their continued support and hard work behind the scenes to make it possible.

Kat Greenslade

It's been great to be back in the water in our own facility and the support from the Uni and all the performance staff in getting it up and running and making sure we have everything we need has been top class. I feel really lucky to have the support of the uni through these strange and tough times!The quotation text is a mandatory field

Nick Quin

I feel very fortunate to have had access to the pool for over 5 weeks now. The level of support myself and my team mates are afforded at Edinburgh is second to none. The work ethic of all Edinburgh University stakeholders in these trying times is further testament to the performance ideals we strive to achieve on a daily basis.

Jack Thorpe

When the University pool in St Leonard’s Land opened, I felt extremely lucky to have been offered a place to return to swimming. After 17 weeks out of the water, I am hugely thankful and appreciative to the University for their support in allowing us to get back to swimming and continue training towards our goals. With the correct safety measures in place, this has allowed us a 6 week head start which I’m sure will prove invaluable.

Kara Hanlon

I’m very fortunate to be back in the water and have never been so appreciative to be able to train alongside some of my UofE teammates. I’m extremely grateful for all the work that the coaches and university staff did behind the scenes to allow this to happen! #BOOST

Katie Robertson