YOUNG competitive swimmers in Wyre Forest have dived back into training after a four-month wait.

More than 120 members of Wyre Forest Swimming Club were among the first in the country to return to the water at Kidderminster's Holy Trinity School on Saturday, however head coach Brian McGuiness said more help is needed to enable leisure centres to reopen their doors.

Brian said: "It has been a massive task to be able to get our swimmers back in the pool. The health and safety of everyone involved is the primary factor here, and that's not just our members, but the parents dropping them off, our volunteer helpers and our staff.

"We had to submit a very detailed risk assessment to Holy Trinity for them to be satisfied we could do this safely."

The number of swimmers allowed in the pool was halved due to social distancing and members were temperature-checked before entering the water.

Wyre Forest Leisure Centre, where the group normally trains, remains closed to the public and bosses at Places Leisure have said they are lobbying government for a ring-fenced support scheme to enable the facility to reopen.

Brian said: "Quite clearly, lots of gyms and leisure facilities like Wyre Forest operate not only on bookings from ourselves, but from members prescriptions paying in month in, month out. They will have lost thousands of members' incomes during lockdown.

"Thankfully our members have been excellent and have helped to keep us ticking over but many leisure centres won't have had any income over that four-month period and will be tapping into reserves to help them reopen.

"We're calling on the government to help those facilities with financial assistance to do what is required to help them reopen.

"From my brief discussions with Places Leisure, it's going to take a lot of work for them to reopen their doors and that requires money. I would be very surprised if they are able to open before the end of August.

"You only need to look elsewhere in the country to see what will happen without the right support. Sheffield are having to source pool time outside the city and Peterborough have had to hand the keys back to the local authority because the company has gone bust. It's a desperate situation."

A statement on Wyre Forest Leisure Centre's website reads: "We know it's disappointing for those centres that do not yet have a reopening date.

"Covid-19 has had an enormous impact upon public sector leisure which has placed significant risk to services across the country.

"We, and all other leisure management organisations, have been working hard with our local authority partners to find a viable way in which services can be delivered.

"Along with other organisations in the sector, we have been working with Sport England and ukactive, in raising the profile of the value of public leisure services since the beginning of the lockdown.

"This has culminated in serious lobbying of the government and we understand that ministers are now appreciating the severity of the situation.

"We sincerely hope that this may lead to the creation of a ring-fenced support scheme in the coming days or weeks, enabling us to open all our centres."

An open date for the leisure centre is expected to be announced soon.