Questions And Answers On The 2020 Season
Why no autumn weekday sessions for under 10s?
We are sorry that we don't have family sessions during the week - we do of course have them at on autumn weekends so they can be booked for families if people would like to attend.
We set the autumn weekday sessions in early September and then put the tickets on sale on Thursday 3 September (with Monday 14 September being first day of autumn season).
We had to judge how demand would run from 14 September and over the whole of the seven week period. There was of course no forecast of a mini heatwave at the start of the autumn season. We can of course imagine now (Sunday 13 September) that some families might like to take advantage of that two or three days warm weather – but we have to plan our sessions in advance and for the whole of the autumn season.
We also have to plan based on our Covid-safe plans - and this means either running lane sessions, or running family sessions. We cannot mix the two as we would otherwise normally do. That's a very important factor in the planning for 2020.
When we plan our autumn season, we have to plan what we offer according to the demand that we’ve seen in recent weeks for swimming. (We also base the sessions on what we expect based on the last two years of running autumn sessions.)
The normal pattern for the second half of September and October is that we have not typically seen demand from families to be anything like the same degree as we have seen from those who want to do lane swimming – which does of course include over-10s when we run afternoon lane sessions.
Looking at the data for bookings for the last week of the 2020 summer season (from Monday 7 September to today Friday 11 September),we have seen demand for the family sessions being at the lowest levels we have seen all season – understandably so because the weather is cooling and the water is getting cooler. The pool temperature at 17-18C or less is a typical mid September temperature is quite cool for young children.
So for the last four days for each of our 2 hour family sessions this week we have had an average of just 25 bookings per session – and then in practice we have had five families showing up to swim in each of those sessions. By contrast, this week we have seen demand for the lane swims both morning and evening be much stronger - with the 50 spaces available for each hour of lane swimming almost always fully booked.
We can also already see what the demand in practice looks like for family sessions - since we have family sessions on the weekends for 19/20 September and 26/27 September - so far demand for those has been very light - while the lane sessions in weekdays has continued to be quite strong into the autumn period.
So, in summary, we set sessions to best meet what we think demand will be - and in practice this looks like on balance we have reflected demand overall.
We do appreciate this is a disappointing reply for families with younger children who would like to visit in this mini heatwave - but we hope this explains in detail our approach
Can't you add in some extra sessions this week?
We have of course already now released autumn tickets and sold tickets on the basis of the weekday lane sessions - and therefore we cannot change the existing sessions that have already been released since people have bought dozens of tickets already for all of the week on the basis that it was a lane session not a mixed family/lane session. (And in a case we already sold out for Monday and very well booked for the rest of the week onwards.)
We have set sessions and numbers based on what we expect the water quality can manage - with 300+ people booked in each day that is what we think the reasonable limit is if we are to sustain water quality for the autumn season.
Why have I not been getting reminders for events?
We've realised that if an event is "unpublished" on the public schedule, the reminder emails set to got at 2pm the day before don't get sent! We had taken to setting events to unpublished once full, so our schedule shows available slots most easily. In future we will set if so the following days sessions are all published, even if full. Apols for that - it's a learning curve with this system!
You're unheated - how cool is the water now?
We're putting water temp on front page now - so please check there. The pool does cool down as September arrives. The temperature has been around 17C for the first week of September and is very unlikely to get warmer, and will get colder.
When do next set of tickets go on sale?
Next release of tickets on Thursday 10 September will be tickets for September weekends of autumn season (19-20 Sept & 26-27 Sept) and they will go on sale at 12:30pm
Do the new government rules - on gatherings of more than six people being illegal from 14th September - affect swimming at the Pells?
No. We continue to operate safely managed and socially distanced arrangements within the government guidelines at the Pells, so we already comply with this rule. People are required to stay in their household bubble and social distance from other people. Therefore there is already no "social gathering of more than six people" taking place at the Pells. (A family household which has more eg 10 people in it continues to be legal because they are one household.)
This BBC article which seems to set this out quite well – explaining why places with social distancing arrangements (schools etc) can continue to operate.
In essence, in any properly managed and socially distanced space, no one would be breaking these new rules anyway.
What will arrangements be for your autumn season?
Our 2020 autumn season at the Pells will run every day from Monday 14 September to Sunday 1 November and tickets will go on sale on Thursday 3 September.
What are the session plans for autumn?
Weekday sessions (Monday to Fridays): Monday 14 Sept to Friday 30 October
The weekday (Monday to Friday) pattern will be:
We are guided in the pattern of sessions by the way in which we have run the autumn season previously, which has been to provide a morning swim period and an afternoon swim period.
The bookings we have seen for the latest release of tickets – ie for the final week of the summer season - has shown that the demand for swims in the middle of the day is much reduced as schools return.
Weekend autumn sessions - to be set and released next week
The weekend of Saturday 12 September and Sunday 13 September is formally the last weekend of our summer season. For that weekend, we will continue the same pattern of sessions that we have run on weekends over the summer. Tickets will be released tomorrow.
We will look at how bookings run over the coming week and then set and release the pattern of weekend sessions for the autumn season next week (Thursday 10 September) to make sure they best match what we think demand will be.
How does the Autumn weekday season tickets – multi pass work?
We are also using the autumn season to test out how something like a season ticket might work with our new booking system, using what Bookwhen calls a “class pass”.
On Thursday 3 September we will start selling a weekday session multi-pass for £60, which allows up to 35 sessions to be booked for the holder over the seven week autumn season for any of the weekday sessions.
This makes the price per session using this ticket less than £2 a session. We are trialling the system so we can see what works, hence the significant scale of discount which is offering equivalent of around 50% off the price of 35 swims.
We have set this number (35) since this is the equivalent of swimming once a day every weekday over the seven weeks of the autumn period.
Swimmers are free to book any session during the weekday they wish with this pass – ie more than once a day, if someone wants to swim on a both morning and an afternoon weekday session. The only restrictions are that it allows for 35 uses in the autumn season, it applies on weekdays and it can be used only for the person holding the ticket.
The reason for placing the “one-person use” restriction is that otherwise this would then just be a massive discount and families/groups could buy all their sessions in this way - and that is not what a season ticket is designed to do, of course.
Our "no refund" policy continues to operate with the season ticket – ie once you book a session you use up one of your 35 slots. (The reason for this is so that it avoids any risk of a season ticket holder booking up lots of slots and then cancelling at the last minute.)
The weekend swims will not be covered by weekday season ticket multi pass - since we expect a slightly different group to want to make use of weekend swims, compared to regular weekdays swimmers. And we don’t want those weekend families and more occasional swimmers to have a reduced chance to buy weekend tickets if they are all booked up cheaply on a multi-pass.
How does the “class pass” work?
On the Bookwhen system this multi-pass is called a “class pass”. To buy the class pass, go to the bookwhen system (from tomorrow) and add the "class pass" to your shopping basket, then choose sessions as normal. (You need also to buy at least one specific swim session when you buy the class pass, you can't just buy it on its own - that's just how the Bookwhen system works.)
Any eligible autumn weekday sessions booked at the same time as the "class pass" will just be counted against the pass. So for example if you booked 5 autumn morning sessions and the pass, you would be charged for the pass only, and 5 sessions would be scored against you class pass. Every time you then book an autumn weekday session for yourself, the system counts that booking against the pass, until all 35 are used up over time. You can see from your booking how many class passes you have used up out of the 35.
You can read more about the class pass on the bookwhen system:
Please email email@example.com if you have any questions!
Will sessions change when schools go back?
We are now offering more lane sessions in week of Mon 7 Sept. We've retained one afternoon family session on weekdays, and have 2 adult lane sessions (11am & noon) in place of the 11am family session. This reflects booking preferences & demand we saw in week of tickets just released. Thanks for understanding - we need to match what we offer closest to what people wish to book for. Sorry if this is disappointing for anyone
As an adult, do I also need to be in the water with my children under 8?
Yes - the adult:child ratios for the water, mean for children and adults in the water together.
Where can I get tickets for your regular sessions?
Tickets for up to Friday 4 September but all sessions are however now fully booked. The link to the booking site for future reference is here:
With limited numbers, how many people are managing to get sessions at the Pells? Is it the same people all the time?
Happy to say that so far more than 7,300 people have been booked into the 13,900 sessions that we have got running over the 5 weeks from 25 July to 22 August. We estimate that this is a lot more people making use of the Pells than we see in a typical August.
Are some people booking multiple sessions a week?
The vast majority of people are booked into a small number of sessions – so over the 5 weeks of bookings, 90% of people are booked onto 4 sessions or fewer (ie less than 1 a week)
Would limiting bookings to say max 5 sessions a week make a difference?
We actually don’t think our systems could do this, and only 2 (out of 7,300) people have booked a swim every day. But if we did limit swims to an average of 5 a week, that would affect just 12 people (out of 7,300) – and free up 70 sessions (out of 13,900). So it would make in practice almost no difference at all.
Are people booking lots of sessions and then not turning up?
Again, the evidence suggests not. Of the 160 people who have booked into 10 sessions or more over the 35 days, no-one has had zero attendances. (Understandably, those who book most sessions are the keenest to attend.)
Are people releasing sessions in advance though if they can’t attend?
People do of course miss sessions for all sorts of reasons – including travel, illness and so so on. If we are notified in advance we can resell tickets (as a donation) – and so far more than 50 session spaces have been freed up in this way. In the email reminder which goes to all bookings before the session, we remind people that this can be done.
Why are there no tickets available for the new sessions to 4 September?
The bookings have proved massively popular and sessions are being booked up extremely quickly. We are sorry if this means you have missed out on sessions you wanted to book. We changed the release on Thu 20 August to a staggered release which made booking more easy to navigate.
How come I could choose tickets and then they were gone when I got to checkout?
Tickets were being bought so quickly for sessions that Bookwhen systems were coping with massive demand. We are so sorry if this meant a session sold out as you were purchasing.
Is there a different way of releasing tickets?
We have released week by week to stop people missing out over the season. We will review with bookwhen if there is any other way of staging sales which means there is not such a scramble on release, but it's not easy. We have already had a ballot for the midnight swim for this reason, but would not want to ballot for ordinary tickets. We trialled a staged release on three different times throughout the day on Thurs 20 August - and this appeared to work well, so we will continue this for Thursday 27th release
Are you hosting any special events?
Yes - we had Midnight Swims on Sat 15 and Sat 22 August - and we may have other one off events which we will promote here and on social media.
Do you ever have returns for fully booked sessions which we can buy?
Occasionally people let us know they cannot make a session and generously allow us to resell as slot without refund to support the Pells. So occasionally tickets might come free - and in this case the "fully booked" red symbol will not display against a session, until places are booked up again.
How do I check if you have had any returns?
Just check the booking system and if new returns have made made for any session and can be bought, then the session will show without the red "fully booked" symbol.
What's the best way of getting in touch?
Please read through all this information and on our booking pages. And if you have any other queries please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the best way of getting in touch with us.
Can I phone you?
If you need to get in touch with us please do use our email address email@example.com – we can’t take phone calls easily during the day, since all staff are focused on people at the pool. We do monitor email remotely so you will get responses during the day. Thanks!
What happens in the event of thunder/lightning?
We follow ROSPA guidance which indicates that when, in the judgement of the lifeguarding team, the lightning is within around 6 miles of the Pells, then we need to clear pool and get people to safe place. We only return 30 mins after last sound of thunder.
Are sessions cancelled in advance due to lightning?
No. We do not cancel sessions in advance due to lightning risk since action is needed only if we judge that a storm has come within 6 miles of the pool, and this cannot be predicted in advance.
Can a session be ended early due to lightning?
Yes, if the storm continues to within 30 mins of end of session we would need to end the session. We would of course consider a refund in such circumstances.
What happens if water quality degrades?
We keep a very careful maintenance of water quality, but with hot weather, heavy use, suncream in the water and so on can cause water quality to degrade. This relates to visual quality - ie for lifeguarding safety - not related to health risks from water not being clean to swim in. In such a circumstance, we might have to shock treat the water - which might mean the pool could be closed for a day or two.
Would there be sessions cancelled if this happened?
Yes - it is possible that this degradation of water quality could happen. If we needed to shock treat the pool in the season the closure for a day or two days would mean all sessions cancelled. We would refund tickets in such an event.
Can we bring bikes into the Pells?
Yes you are welcome to use the bike rack inside the Pells if you cycle along to the Pool - which we very much encourage, thanks!
Can I come in on a ticket booked in someone else's name?
No - tickets are sold for a specific person and name and contact details entered at time of booking. They cannot be transferred by the booker to another person. If you want to email us in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org) we can see what we can do, but we cannot guarantee any change, nor can we admit people under different names. This is since we have to comply with the track and trace requirements.
Do you operate a waiting list for tickets?
No. We don’t run a cancellations policy so once tickets are bought they’re not refunded so we don’t get any tickets returned and we don’t have waiting lists.
How many people allowed in the pool?
Our sessions will be limited to around 50 (now 45 for early mornings) for lane swimming and 100 for family sessions. Specific numbers of tickets will go on sale for each session. In light of experience we may alter numbers allowed in as the season progresses, within the limits set by Government and our lifeguarding capacity.
Are backstroke and butterfly really not allowed?
Yes. Butterfly is specifically mentioned in Swim England guidance since it is a wide stroke. We have also taken the view at backstroke, which does not allow you easily to see if you are getting close to someone else, especially in an open air pool, should not be permitted. We will need to ask people not to do these strokes when swimming at the Pells. Sorry about that but safety of swimmers has to come first.
How do I know how many tickets are left for any session?
Where a session is full the "red, no entry" symbol shows. The number of spaces left is show at the top of each session entry. For sessions allowing children in (family and evening lanes) please check that session number, not the tickets left.
(We set ticket limits for each ticket type which allow everything from 45 adults and no children, to 15 adults and 30 children. Hence "ticket type" left will be misleading! Apols, but the system isn't quite clever enough to compare session limits and ticket limits and adjust as sales come in.)
What might change in light of experience?
We have (from Monday 27 July) reduced future ticket sales to 45 per session for lane swimming, to ensure this is as safe as can be. This applies only to future sales - so anyone who has already bought a ticket is unaffected. We are also moving to 3 lanes, rather than 2, so we have fast/mediums/slow in light of experience so far.
Which days will you be open?
From the day we open, we open every day of the season. We have not yet announced the final day of the season, but hope to keep this running as long as possible
When will tickets go on sale?
The first fortnight's batch of tickets went on sale on Thursday 23 July from 3pm, once we had confirmed our opening date of Saturday 25 July. We will then release tickets on a weekly basis - so the set for Sat 8 Aug to Fri 14 Aug, will go on sale from 3pm on Thursday 30 July.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets have to be bought in advance. We have an online system for buying tickets. No tickets will be on sale at the kiosk for immediate admission to the pool. Links to the online system were added at top of this page when it went live.
Where is the online system?
We released the information on accessing and using the system when we released the first set of tickets, on 3pm on Thursday 23 July. We use Bookwhen to provide a safe and secure method.
Why is Paypal asking me to create an account?
We have set the system so people can buy using paypal as a guest. However, we have had a few examples where PayPal are not providing the guest option for people trying to book. We have been told by Bookwhen that very occasionally PayPal don't provide that guest option for an individual trying to book - but that's PayPal's systems which put that in place, not the Bookwhen (or the Pells set up). We suggest people try booking with eg different PC/laptop/phone, or deleting cookies, or some such? (Sorry this is not official Paypal advice - but we have been told that this can work.)
What if I can't get online?
We know some people don't have access to the internet. People in this situation can buy in advance from the kiosk - we use the same online system, and sell at the same price and access as for others' booking. This will not be generally available since we do not want to encourage any queuing at the kiosk - and the same tickets and slots are available to the public online.
Can I turn up and queue?
No. We will only admit people with pre-booked tickets
What will the opening hours be?
The sessions we operate from Sat 25 July to Friday 4 September are as below. From Monday 7 September we are replacing the family session at 11am with two adult lane swims as schools are back.
We have seven sessions on weekdays (Mon-Fri):
And we will have a mix of sessions from 10am-7pm on weekends:
Why are you asking people to arrive 10mins before start of sessions?
We have put this in place so we can do online check in before the session starts so we can admit people as quickly as possible. We aim to use our iPad/iPhone to check people in using the Bookwhen system.
What is the latest time I can come into a session?
We would not expect to admit people if there is less than 20 mins of a session to run, since our staff will be focussed on getting ready for change over.
What will the prices be?
Our prices per session are:
We have to set prices at a rate which allows us to meet our costs when we open, taking account of the shorter season, the restricted admission numbers and the staffing costs.
Will there be concessions?
We are not able to offer concessions on our admissions in this very unsual season since we cannot find a practical and workable way running such an arrangement, given that we wish to admit people as quickly as possible for each session, we will have to sell tickets in advance only and we do not think we can reasonably check proof of concession each time. We expect concessions to resume next season.
Will children be allowed in?
Children will be allowed in for the family and over 10s also for the evening lane swim sessions. They have to be accompanied by a paying adult.
Do I have to pay for under 2s?
Under 2s are free in a normal season, but with covid-19 restrictions and track and trace we have to ask for everyone to buy a ticket for any child. Please email us if there is any problem.
What about the idea of 1:1 ratio adult to child?
We have clarified government guidance which initally appeared to suggest a 1:1 ratio. On further enquiry, that seems to relate to limiting the number of additional adults supervising a child’s activity, not to limiting the number of children per adult. Under the guidance, parents are however responsible for the safe behaviour of their children - we are therefore not allowing children under-16 to be admitted without adults.
Can my over 10 be admitted without an adult, if they are a good swimmer?
The reason for requiring a paying adult to accompany over 10s to lane swimming is to do with government rules on managing Covid, not on capability of swimmers. In unsupervised (ie non-lessons) sessions adults have to remain responsible for their children. Lifeguards do not act in loco parentis.
Do I have to buy an adult ticket if only my child is swimming?
We don't have spectator tickets at the Pells - we stopped offering those more than 10 years ago, when very sadly some people misused them, by booking and then swimming once inside. Normally, without Covid-19 restrictions, we would allow children aged 10 and over to be admitted and swim on their own. But under Government rules children cannot be admitted unsupervised. So we have to charge for adult admission as well.
Can I come in with my carer?
We can only admit people who are booked into sessions. Carers can of course accompany people to the Pells and if your carer is happy to pay for a ticket we would be very grateful since we are a charity. If that is not possible, then you or your carer can email email@example.com
What is are the adult:child ratios you are allowing?
For admission to the pool, therefore, children under-16 will need to be accompanied by an adult, and one adult can bring in up to four children with them to the family sessions.
In the water itself with adults needing to be in the pool with their children, our normal child ratios apply - which is for 1:1 for under-4s in the pool, and 1:2 for under-8s. Over-8s who can swim are allowed in the water on their own, but will continue to be the responsibility of their accompanying adults.
Please note, as with all arrangements we will keep this closely under review and may need to amend these in light of experience for everyone’s safety.
How will family sessions work?
The pool will be divided into three sections: the shallow end for those who cannot swim without support. A middle section for swimming. And the end section for jumping in.
Are there limits on numbers in the pool?
Yes - we may need to ask people not to get into each section if they get full (eg if too many people are already in one part of the pool). Thank you for following all lifeguards instructions!
Why was I asked not to enter the water - surely I have paid for a ticket?
During family sessions we may need to ask people not to enter the water when an area of the pool becomes too full. It has been our experience in practice that this is at most for 10 minutes until someone gets out. We have taken this approach - ie limiting numbers in the water, as required by government guidleines, rather than setting that limit as the total allowed in per session. This means we can allow up to 100 people to come in for a 2 hour session, knowing that for short periods entry to the water has to be restricted. Thank you for making sure we can follow the rules and keep everyone safe.
Do you have showers?
Yes - there are four open air warm showers by the lawn
Will there be season tickets?
Sadly, not. Because we have to have pre-booked tickets per session, with very limited numbers, and because we are releasing tickets a week in advance, we cannot think of any practical, reliable and fair way of operating any season ticket system this year.
Will there be changing facilities?
Our changing rooms are too small to keep open. You are welcome to change on the lawn. We will provide access to the disabled toilets for people with disabilities who cannot arrive beach ready.
Will the paddling pool be open?
No - given government rules on space we do not think we can safely open the small pool - given the number of lifeguards we need for the main pool supervision.
Can we bring inflatables?
We will allow inflatables in family sessions. But reserve right to review as we see how this works in practice.
Can we take photographs?
We have a long-standing “no photographs” policy for our pool users. This is to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable while swimming and using the Pells. This is something that our staff will need to remind people if they see anyone using phones to take pics so please respect what they say. It’s not easy since people are happy and excited to be at the Pells and wish to share their experience. We ourselves as a pool team take pictures occasionally, either of the pool empty or from a distance of users so that people can see what the pool is like. We have also done portraits of people with permission again for publicity purposes.
Will you have fast and slow lanes?
Yes - we will start with 2 wide lanes and a central rescue lane in the middle. We will review how this works operationally.
Our review on Monday 27 July has now moved to three lanes - fast/medium/slow - since experience shows this is a better, safer experience for all
Can we wear wetsuits?
Yes - wetsuits are allowed in Pells for any session
Can we wear flippers or use snorkels?
No - for safety and lifesaving we do not allow flippers or snorkels. (Small hand or feet paddles for those doing distance training are permitted)
How do we maintain social distancing in the water?
You will be asked to keep 2m distant while swimming - we will have 2 wide lanes (5m width), and a central recovery lane.
Will we be able to use the toilet facilities?
Toilet update 28 July: given how well everyone respecting space & other pool goers, we will now have toilets open without needing to ask for key. But it is strictly one person at a time - sanitise on entry and leave clean. We will continue ourselves to do regular cleaning as well. We would ask if at all possible that people use their own facilities before they come to the Pells.
Will we be able to have a shower?
Yes - for hygiene we will ask everyone to shower before they come in
Will the kiosk be open?
We will aim to have the kiosk open for family and evening sessions. But we cannot guarantee it will always open - or that we will keep it open throughout a session. We have to prioritise the safety of swimmers and put staff activity on this first of all, not in the kiosk. Thanks for understanding.
Can we bring our own food/ have a picnic?
Yes - as normal.
Is it "swim and go" or can we swim and sit on lawn?
You are allowed to stay for the whole of the session. Provided you maintain social distancing, and you follow all lifeguarding instructions, you are free to swim or sit on lawn during session as suits you.
Can we use the drinking water fountain?
Not the fountain itself - but if you bring a container and need water we can fill from the kiosk.
How long can we stay?
The sessions will all be for fixed times (eg 1hr in the early mornings; 2hrs for the family sessions; 90 mins for the evening lane sessions)
Why can't we book more in advance?
We are releasing tickets weekly in advance so that this is fair for people seeking to book week by week. And since we might change opening times and session arrangements as we see how this works in practice, and if government guidelines change or if new local measures are introduced.
Can I book for private hire?
Given the high demand for the sessions we offer, we are not able to hire the pool, even for swim clubs. This is to ensure we can maintain water quality throughout the season. Club swimmers are welcome to book and use the pool during normal lane sessions
What are your Covid-19 precautions?
The main precautions are to follow all the Government, Swim England and RLSS guidelines - and these precautions relate to closing off changing facilities, restricted numbers admitted, new lifesaving and recovery arrangements, and distancing in the water and out of the water.
We will also have hand-cleansing at the entrance and by the showers. One way system around the pool and in lane swimming. Enhanced cleaning arrangements. No tables or chairs, except for those with physical needs.