Swim England

A nation swimming

Swim England responds to Active Lives Children survey

Research released today by Sport England highlights the important role swimming plays in young people’s physical and personal development.

The results also show the continued need to work with primary schools to improve swimming and water safety provision for all pupils, and ensure access to suitable water space.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England CEO, said: “Regular physical activity is important for any age group and it is encouraging to see swimming playing such an important role in helping to develop young people’s health and physical literacy.

“Learning to swim and understanding water safety has the extra dimension of keeping young people safe.

“As such, we have been pushing for government and schools to take swimming and water safety provision seriously for a number of years. The statistics today provide the first national benchmark, which supports our own research in this area.

“However, given swimming and water safety is a national curriculum requirement, there is no excuse for those statistics not to be at 100 per cent.

“This is particularly important when you look at the difference in swimming and water safety ability between pupils from higher affluence and lower affluence families. For those young people who are not able to take advantage of swimming lessons outside of school, years 1-6 of primary school will be their only chance. It is not acceptable that many pupils are still not being afforded this opportunity.”

The findings also show that over three quarters of young people between the ages of five and 16 say they want to swim more. Swim England is working with schools to provide greater links with local swimming and aquatics clubs, more opportunities during secondary school, and working with the sector to create greater opportunities.

To support this, Swim England is also undertaking research on levels of water deprivation to understand where additional facilities are required.

Key swimming-related findings of report

  • Swimming is in the top 10 most prevalent activities across all age groups except Years 9-11 (ages 13-16)
  • Over 65 per cent of all children and young people (Years 1-11, ages 5-16) can swim 25 metres unaided
  • 77 per cent  of Year 7 pupils can swim the minimum national curriculum requirement of 25m unaided.
  • 86 per cent of Year 7 pupils say they can tread water
  • 81 per cent of Year 7 pupils say they can self-rescue
  • 66 per cent of boys can swim 25m unaided compared to 63 per cent of girls
  • 86 per cent of young people from the most affluent families can swim 25m unaided, compared to 42 per cent of those from the least affluent families.