Dementia Friendly Swimming Project Findings

Swimmer with dementia smiling

Swimming has been shown to have the following positive impacts on people living with dementia and their carers:

  • It can offer a sense of mental wellbeing, something which cannot be easily measured but is mentioned by thousands of participants.
  • It helps clear the mind, encourages positivity in individuals and builds a sense of self-worth.
  • Swimming can soothe the mind and reduce anxiety
  • It can relax the body by supporting it in a relatively weightless environment
  • It can offer opportunities to socialise.
  • It can reduce loneliness and contribute to creating a sense of place.

Project overview

The Dementia Friendly Swimming Project launched in 2015 and aimed to:

  1. Build a network of dementia friendly pools for people living with dementia and their carers
  2. Produce guidance for pools and those in health care provision
  3. Develop and deliver specific qualifications as well as building a network of delivers.

How we achieved these aims

In the first year of the project we worked with Durham County Council and Manchester City Council to develop our knowledge and understanding.

During the second year we expanded the project to include pools in Crawley, Nottingham, Barking and Dagenham, Bristol, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

By the end of the third year we were working with over 100 swimming pools, trained 895 key swimming and centre staff, and upskilled 64 cascade trainers to aid sustainability.

More importantly, we positively enhanced the swimming experience for almost 1,300 people living with dementia and with wider health conditions, and helped 335 adult carers to have practical swimming experience.

In addition, over 500 people living with dementia took part in additional dry-side activities run by leisure centres and charities.

We have also supported the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge of one million Dementia Friends. Click here to find out more about the Challenge.


website: Skylab