The ASA is confident swimming figures will go up

The ASA is confident it can convert the millions of casual swimmers being drawn into the pool through Free Swimming into regular ones who will enjoy the sport for life.

The numbers getting in the pool have jumped significantly since the Government launched its free swimming campaign – up by between15 and 20%. Other research has also indicated that of the people swimming once a month, more than 1m want to do so more often and there are 4.3m people who want to start to swim.

The ASA has said it is sure all this can only add to participation figures, even on the day the latest Active People Survey from Sport England shows the trend in regular swimmers (once a week) continues to drift downwards.

The governing body believes once the latent demand for the sport, especially among women, is coupled with the initiatives it has in place there will be even more demand to get into the water.

Earlier this week researchers from Sheffield Hallam University acknowledged swimming is in an ‘enviable’ position with such a captive audience. They are now, along with researchers from Loughborough and other independent industry groups, looking at what additional interventions can be made to convert even more casual swimmers to regular swimmers.

According to the latest Active People Survey, which covers October 2008 to October 2009, swimming* remains the largest participation sport with 3.162m people taking part once a week (despite a drop in overall numbers) and in some areas of the country regular swimming is on the rise. Men are also swimming regularly.

The research also indicates there are lots of women who want to swim regularly and as we enter the festive season the message for them is think about swimming more regularly in the New Year – possibly even make it a resolution.

David Sparkes, the ASA’s Chief Executive, said: “We were aware when we started the work with Sport England to increase participation it would not be easy and it would take time. The research and the Industry tell us we are going in the right direction. However, we need to do more and the ASA are working tirelessly with our principle partner British Gas and Government to get more people swimming more often and having more fun.”

* ‘Swimming’ in the survey covers all swimming and diving (indoor and outdoor), water polo, deep water swimming, open water swimming and deep water diving.

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