Swim England

A nation swimming

England Swims to make water-based activity more accessible and inclusive

An industry-leading nationwide survey carried out by Swim England is set to help make water-based activity more accessible and inclusive.

The national governing body’s England Swims campaign has revealed key data which will be used to help break down long-standing barriers among ethnically diverse communities which prevent participation.

It targeted members of South Asian, Black African, Black Caribbean and East Asian communities who could swim but choose not to as well as those who cannot swim at all.

Swim England worked alongside key partners including local authorities, pool operators, Sporting Equals and the Muslim Sports Foundation during the four-week survey and almost 4,500 completed questionnaires using online and face-to-face data collection were received.

The responses are helping to shape Swim England’s next 10-year strategy, which will be the most ambitious yet to achieve a nation swimming.

The insight revealed that whilst 97 per cent of all ethnically diverse communities perceive swimming as an important skill to have – only 59 per cent see swimming as accessible.

Nine out of 10 want to ensure their children learn how to swim – even though almost half are unable to swim themselves.

Shape future of sector

While 14 per cent of adults in white communities cannot swim 25m unaided, this rises to 49 per cent of ethnically diverse communities.

This disparity is further exemplified by gender differences as females of all ethnicities are less likely to be able to swim.

A total of 53 per cent of adults state they want to swim more in the next 12 months – with 23 per cent of those not having gone swimming at all in the past year.

Kerry Watkiss, Swim England head of insight, said: “This is the first time we have comprehensive data around the swimming ability of adults across ethnically diverse communities.

“It has given us a better understanding of how we can diversify water-based activity and which groups need help to break down the barriers which are preventing participation.

“Now, we’ll be working closely with partners across the sector on specific projects to encourage these communities into the water in a bid to help them to enjoy a lifelong love of swimming.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, hailed the ‘important and innovative insight’.

She said: “The findings from our England Swims campaign are going to be vital to help shape the future of the sector.

“It’s clear that while people in all ethnically diverse communities realise the importance of learning how to swim, many still see challenges in taking part.

“Thanks to our close partnerships we now have critically-important data which will also allow us to conduct more specific, focused research and initiatives to help get ethnically diverse communities active in the water.

Swimming enjoyed by everyone

“Our soon-to-be-published 10-year strategy is our most ambitious in terms of increasing the diversity in all our sports and activities thanks to the results from this important and innovative insight.

“We are also providing the sector with full access to the findings and will work closely with them on the next steps.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to complete it – you have played a huge role in helping to build a future where swimming will be enjoyed by everyone.”

The survey was also completed by people living with long-term conditions which impact on their daily lives and the findings will help support Swim England’s health agenda.

Aquatic activity has been proven to help save the NHS and social care system more than £357 million a year.

Many people are unable to exercise on dry land due to their health and being exercising in the water can help them be physically active and, in some cases, help manage their conditions.

The England Swims campaign has also been nominated for the Best Sports Governing Body Initiative in this year’s Sports Business Award.