Swim England engages government as part of campaign to highlight health benefits

Swim England and leading leisure operators have written to the Government insisting swimming must play a key part of a national strategy for health improvement and activity.

The national governing body has teamed up with operators around the country as part of its latest #LoveSwimming campaign which aims to highlight the multitude of ways that swimming can help support people’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

More than 14 million adults swim in England every year and the benefits of the water are endless.

These include helping to alleviate chronic pain and representing an accessible form of exercise to those managing long-term conditions, to rescuing people’s mental health and providing an opportunity for people to socialise in a supportive environment.

Swim England and its partners have commended the Government’s new Office of Health Improvement and Disparities for its commitment to lead national efforts to improve the health of the nation – but has urged that aquatic activity must play a central role in helping people live happier and healthier lives.

Transformative impact on the nation

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “We want to engage government in a deeper dialogue as to how swimming can support the nation’s challenges in terms of increasing our physical and mental health across society.

“The #LoveSwimming campaign has seen nine key industry partners join forces with Swim England to champion swimming and the huge benefits for the whole of society. Coming out of an incredibly difficult 18 months with the pandemic, swimming can have a transformative impact on the nation. Swimming must be a part of government strategy for health improvement and activity.”

Swim England’s recent ‘Decade of Decline’ report found that almost 2000 pools could be lost forever by 2030, which represents a 40% reduction in the number of available pools. This threatens the future of aquatic sports in many areas across the nation.

The report also highlights that a lack of access to swimming pools exacerbates health inequalities – both adult participation rates and children’s swimming attainment levels are lower in the areas that are the shortest of water.

The organisations represented in the Love Swimming Group operate more than 40% of public swimming pools in England, welcoming millions of swimmers to their pools each year.

Research has shown that swimming saves the NHS and social care system more than £357 million every year.

Saviour for mental and physical health

Swimming is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and the unique properties of the water provide the ideal environment to help support people who may find it more difficult to exercise and be active on land due to a range of long-term health conditions and impairments.

For Hampshire’s Rachel Jack, swimming is a “saviour for mental and physical health”.

The 39-year-old suffers from Chronic Vestibular migraine, which she describes as ‘your balance system falling out with your brain’ – yet swimming has given her back independence and the confidence to be active.

She said: “Swimming has had an absolutely transformative effect on my physical and mental health.

“The improvement in how I feel is amazing, it’s just been so beneficial to me personally.

“I’ve made it my passion and tried my hand at open water swimming as well, which has been an absolute joy.

“I cannot stress enough how much freedom and relief swimming has given me.”

To find your nearest pool, visit swimming.org/loveswimming.