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New partnership agreed to help increase BME participation in aquatic activity

Swim England is teaming up with the Black Swimming Association (BSA) in a bid to further increase the numbers of the BME population participating in aquatic activity.

The partnership between the two organisations will aim to break down the barriers that prevent certain groups from taking part in swimming.

Swim England and the BSA will work together to highlight the importance of swimming as a key life skill and educate the black community on water safety and drowning prevention.

The BSA was formed last year by a group of individuals across all levels of aquatic sports – from adult Learn to Swim sessions all the way to Olympic hopeful Alice Dearing – after recent figures released by Sport England showed that 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children in England do not swim.

Mike Hawkes, Swim England Inclusion Officer, said: “We appreciate that there is under representation in this area and we are taking practical steps to address this inequality.

“By working closely together, we can design projects and programmes that are specifically suited to the unique aquatic needs of BME communities.”

“We will be working closely with the BSA to ensure swimming competence is seen as a key life skill as well as a sort that can provide both mental and physical health benefits, safety and enjoyment.:

Danielle Obe, co-founder of the BSA, welcomed the new partnership and said she was looking forward to working closely with Swim England to increase the impact of their work.

She said: “We realise that our strength lies in working together to understand, address and overcome significant age-long barriers to swimming that exist within the BME community.

Promoting inclusion and diversity

“Only in a collaborative partnership can we foster participation, engagement and inclusion for BMEs in aquatics.”

Damian Stevenson, Swim England Insight and Partnership Director, said: “We hope this partnership can help Swim England to increase visibility, representation and participation of BME groups within all of our sports.

“The Black Swimming Association can offer unique insight to help us further promote inclusion and diversity in aquatics and create positive role models in and by the side of the pool”

Mike added: “With British swimmer and BSA co-founder Alice Dearing recently vocal in her support of increasing BME representation at an elite level, this partnership evidences our commitment to support this.

“We know that misconceptions about swimming exist along with barriers that can prevent certain groups from participating.

“This exciting partnership is about identifying and removing these barriers, increasing participation and moving a step closer to our vision of a nation swimming.”

Last November, Swim England also signed a partnership agreement with Sporting Equals to ensure the Swim England Learn to Swim programme and Swim Safe are delivered in appropriate locations and agree ways to engage these audiences.

It also aimed to increase the number of BAME club members, teachers and coaches and ensure that swimming is relevant as a physical activity of choice for the BAME population.