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Swimming makes Big Splash at the Commons Launch

13 May 2011

British Swimming and the BBC have officially launched The Big Splash, the UK’s largest ever swimming campaign, at the House of Commons.

The Big Splash aims to encourage the nations’ existing swimmers and inspire new people into the pool. Around 13 million people in Britain swim regularly, already making it the biggest participation sport in the country.

Swimming is a skill for life - it is especially important for young people to enjoy the water safely.

But despite these positive figures:

  • There are 400 incident of drowning per year
  • One in five adults can’t swim
  • One in five children leaves primary school without being able to swim.

That’s why the Big Splash campaign is being backed by some the BBC’s biggest stars, including Gary Lineker, Graham Norton, Matt Baker and Gabby Logan.

Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere, who is facing his own swimming challenge to overcome his fear of water, hosted the event alongside Big Splash ambassador Ian Thorpe and the Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe said: “Swimming is a skill for life. It is especially important for young people to enjoy the water safely, whether it’s at the beach or the local pool.”

Some of swimming’s most remarkable stories were celebrated at the event where a small number of Big Splash Swimming heroes, from swimming teachers to life savers, were presented with awards from Thorpe in recognition for their services to the sport.

British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes, who also spoke at the event, said:  “We are delighted to be working with the BBC on the Big Splash, on what we believe is one of the biggest campaigns in the country to encourage more people to swim more often.

“The Big Splash is part of our ongoing drive to increase the participation in swimming. It’s got fantastic health benefits and it saves lives.

“Working with the pools and the BBC, we expect to see many more people getting active as we move towards the greatest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games, coming to London next year.”

Swimming is one of the most accessible forms of exercise and can be done by anyone regardless of their age, weight, background or ability, alone or with their family and friends. It has huge health and well-being benefits and is a skill that can save lives.

Being able to swim isn’t just about lengths in a pool, it is a skill which is transferable to a multitude of other sports and hobbies, and can be great fun.

More than 500 pools have already signed up to the campaign and, together with British Swimming, are offering a wide range of exciting Big Splash activities and resources, including:

  • One stop shop website, www.bigsplash.co.uk with a pool finder
  • Improver lesson sessions at your local pool
  • Games for all the family
  • ‘Feel the burn’ fitness tips
  • Big Splash online community for more hints, tips and support.

This weekend, as part of the official Big Splash Launch, BBC will broadcast live from the British Gas Great Salford Swim – one of the largest mass participation swimming events held in Great Britain.

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