Swim England

A nation swimming

Research reveals more youngsters are swimming at least once a week

More youngsters are swimming at least once a week, according to new research published by Sport England.

The Active Lives Children and Young People survey has revealed 2,073,600 five to 16-year-olds took part in aquatic activity at least once a week during the last academic year (2018-19).

That’s a rise of 189,100 (2.4 per cent) compared with the previous year’s total of 1,884,500.

The research also reveals more youngsters were swimming outside of school and popular initiatives such as the Swim England Disney Family-Fun Sessions and Swim Safe are being hailed as reasons for this.

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson welcomed the increase in the figures.

She said: “It’s fantastic to see even more youngsters are enjoying the many benefits swimming and our other aquatic discipline offers.

“We have a vision of a nation swimming and millions of youngsters have learned how to swim through Swim England’s industry-leading Learn to Swim programme.

“Our partnership with Disney to encourage families to enjoy the water has been a real success with more than 37,000 taking part so far. They have helped put even more fun into what is already a thoroughly enjoyable activity.

“More than 30,000 children also attended free Swim Safe events across the country this year, learning how to swim safely outdoors.

“It’s clear now that water-based activity helps contribute to the enjoyment levels of children on a regular basis.

Vital life skill that should not be ignored

“Add that to our findings from the Value of Swimming research, which shows how young people have a higher feeling of life being worthwhile compared to non-swimmers, and it’s apparent that being in the water for any type of aquatic activity helps them feel happier, healthier and more self-confident as they grow up.”

Despite swimming being part of the national curriculum, one in four youngsters leave primary school unable to swim 25m or perform self-rescue.

Schools are being encouraged to sign up for the Swim England School Swimming and Water Safety Charter to take advantage of an extensive set of resources and advice to help improve lesson quality and impact.

For many youngsters, school swimming lessons are their only chance to learn how to swim and Jane insisted she would be lobbying the new government to ‘start taking school swimming seriously’.

“It’s unacceptable that so many 11-year-olds leave primary school unable to swim,” said Jane. “School swimming lessons are just as important as anything else taught at primary school

“We’ll be playing our part to ensure the new government starts taking school swimming more seriously so that more pupils are given access to swimming lessons.

“It’s a vital life skill that should not be ignored and I’ll continue to bang the drum to ensure this is not the case.”

The key findings from the Active Lives Children and Young People survey showed that almost half of children and young people (46.8%) in England are doing the recommended average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day – a rise of 3.6% over the last year.

It means that 3.3 million children are now meeting the new recommended Chief Medical Officer Guidelines – 279,600 more children than 2018.