Stigma-busting campaign launched as half of adults feel learning to swim is intimidating

More than half of adults feel it’s intimidating to learn to swim, with this number increasing to nearly three in five amongst those who have never swum, new research has revealed.

The new statistics, which come from Swim England, also indicate a number of inaccurate and damaging misconceptions about adult swimming lessons, resulting in many across the nation missing out on learning an invaluable life skill or rediscovering their love for the water.

Men are more likely to feel embarrassed at the prospect of swimming lessons, and two in five adults would be more likely to sign up to swimming lessons if there wasn’t such stigma associated.

These reported stigmas include misconceptions that adult beginners have to wear armbands in the pool, must wear a conventional costume, or that lessons are only for children or beginners.

In response, Swim England and 10 leading operators have today launched their latest #LoveSwimming campaign to dispel the myths and stigma around learning to, or improving your swimming ability, as an adult.

Jamal Hussan, a swimmer who had his first ever lesson aged 45, reflected on why swimming lessons have made such a difference in his life and given him the opportunity to make the most of time with his family.

He said: “I first brought my daughter to start her lessons and she actually inspired me to get into the water. At first, I was really scared because it was something I’d never done before at all.

“When you think about the barriers to why people might avoid lessons, if I’m honest I think body shape, age, all play a role. But that shouldn’t be getting in the way for anyone to start lessons.

“I was always worried that if I was taking my daughter, then I wouldn’t be able to go in the water with her and I’d miss out on that time with her.

“Thanks to lessons, I do feel more confident on a daily basis now. That hour that I get in the water, it gives you a real therapy and I would urge anyone to just go for it!”

As part of the latest #LoveSwimming campaign, more adults are being urged to get back into swimming, whether they be a complete beginner or rediscovering their love for the water.

Katie Towner, Swim England’s head of learn to swim, added: “This is a hugely important campaign for us as we commit to welcoming as many people as possible into pools across the nation.

Inspire more adults

“No one should feel as though it’s too late for them to learn to swim, or that there are any barriers to them having their first lesson at any age or ability level.

“Our new research reveals a number of misconceptions about swimming lessons that we want to dispel once and for all – whether it concerns what you should wear in the water, lesson privacy, or who swimming is for.

“We all know that swimming is an essential life skill – but for so many across the nation it is the gateway to creating amazing memories with your family, becoming healthier and happier, and achieving full confidence in the water.

“Knowing that so many want to swim but lack the confidence or knowledge to get started, we are delighted to be launching our latest wave of #LoveSwimming to break down barriers and inspire more adults into the water.”

To sign up to lessons at your local pool, visit