Swim England

A nation swimming

The Swimming Environment

Frontier Two of the Swim England Partner Hub looks at how your facility, workforce and environment impacts on customers.

Understanding and catering to the needs of your different target customer groups will support customer retention and encourage further use of your facilities.

This Frontier has three sections:

  1. Creating an inviting environment
  2. Workforce
  3. Inclusivity

Click on the boxes to expand or close each section, then click or tap between the tabs to read some thought-starters and download useful resources.

Expand icon
Creating an inviting environment

Responsive Cleaning:

  • schedule around busy times – e.g. family swim times to keep improving standards
  • make it visible – provide a T shirt ‘clean team’ to show swimmers their environment is being maintained

Vanity areas accessible to everyone:

  • Provide hairdryers, large and working lockers, longer shower times


  • Full length mirrors and different height counter tops for wheelchair users

This is about creating the right atmosphere or ‘feel’ for your pool and your sessions. Change the look and feel depending on your audience.

  • Rules? Use guidelines or ‘etiquette’ on what you can do (rather than what you can’t).
  • Inspiring music, mood lighting, pool equipment for use
  • Hooks/Poolside storage for towels, robes, walking aids etc.
  • Accessible drinking water/signage providing details on where water bottles can be filled.
  • Clear information for new swimmers on what to bring with you and what to expect at the pool.
Case Study (CS6)Creating a twilight swim
Case Study (CS7)Aqua relax sessions
Case Study (CS8)Wellbeing sessions (Macmillan)
Pool etiquette

Expand icon

This is about creating the right atmosphere or ‘feel’ for your pool and your sessions. Change the look and feel depending on your audience.

  • Can provide a visible and friendly welcome; able to support customers on their journey through the centre.
  • Aid customer by offering ‘MOT’ tips on technique or outlining a range of exercises to do in the water.
  • Adaptable and knowledgeable about different impairments and abilities and how to help cater for them.
  • Able to provide outreach to local community to promote benefits of swimming and attract new customers, ideally from new audiences.
  • Consider dry side inductions as well as poolside – see the Ideas for aquatic inductions document
Ideas for aquatic inductions

  • Upskill staff on the benefits of swimming

Maximizing the exposure of Aquatics

Your gym and membership staff are an important asset in encouraging your customers (and potential customers) to include aquatics as part of their active lifestyle or fitness programme/s. Therefore it is important to upskill the relevant staff so that they have a good understanding of the pool programme and what each of the activities involves so that they can signpost customers to relevant sessions to help them achieve their aims and complement any dryside activities. Key to this is understanding the Health and Wellbeing benefits of Aquatic Activity and further details of these can be found in our Value of Swimming report.

Swimming with Health Conditions Fact Sheets
Value of Swimming Report

  • Enhance your normal customer service training with swimming specific support. See the Ideas for customer service document
Ideas for customer service

Expand icon

Swimming is a great way to improve health and wellbeing for all ages.

An independent report, commissioned by Swim England, has evidenced the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming. The report shows:

  • The unique medium of water is ideal for all ages to exercise.
  • Swimming offers particular benefits for those with long term health issues and can help you live longer.
  • Children who swim regularly develop physical, cognitive and social skills quicker than those who do not.

The cost of savings to the NHS are revealed in Swim England’s Value of Swimming report, which outlines how water-based activity is making a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation.

The swimming sector released a chapter in the #LoveSwimming campaign focussing on the physical health benefits of swimming and the positive impact of ‘prescribing’ swimming to aid a range of medical conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, Arthritis and chronic pain.

View the Health Report, the summary and our response
Case Study (CS9)GP referral partnership
Aquatic activity for health qualification
Value of Swimming Report
#LoveSwimming: Moving Medicine

Particularly for disabled people, water can be the most inclusive and accessible environment.

  • Review the Swim England Inclusive Behaviour Change Insight to understand more about the barriers and motivations towards swimming for individuals with disabilities/impairments.
  • Use Swim England’s ‘Guide to Engaging Disabled People in Swimming’ to help you encourage and support more disabled people to swim.
  • Use the Swim England Inclusion Symbols pack to promote how accessible your centres and services are.

Other resources/support:

  • Activity Alliance is working to make active lives possible with a vision that disabled people are active for life. You can read more about them and access their insight here

There are a number of disability training CPD seminars offered by the Institute of Swimming:

  • Children with educational difficulties
  • Integrating autistic children
  • Swimmers with physical and sensory impairments
  • Integrating disabled swimmers
  • Working with severely disabled young people
Guide to engaging disabled people in swimming
Inclusion symbols pack
Case Study (CS10)Training your workforce (Aquability)
Case Study (CS1)Inclusive Swimming Experience (Vivacity)
Case Study (CS7)Aqua relax sessions
Swim England Dementia Friendly Swimming Hub
Free webinars to support water wellbeing
Introducing the Water Wellbeing Programmme

Swimming is for everyone!

Swim England also has a number of support resources and some great partners that can help you encourage and support more specific audiences to go swimming.

Where a facilities local community demographics require it, it is important to consider the availability of exclusive sessions that are staffed with appropriate personnel for different cultural/religious groups. The facility may also need to consider whether such sessions require exclusive use and therefore have the ability to provide this i.e. Lockable viewing area, blinds, window covers and/or one way glass.


Use the information below to help grow swimming participation for specific genders:

  • Women in Sport work to advance gender equality through and within sport; empowering women and girls through sport and the sport sector.
  • You can read more about them and access their insight from their web site.

  • This Girl Can is a campaign funded by The National Lottery and developed by Sport England.
  • Its aim is to help women overcome the fear of judgement, which is stopping many women and girls from taking part in physical activity. You can read more about the project on the web site. Can you run a local ‘This Girl Can’ swim campaign?

Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities (BAME)

Use the information below to help you grow swimming participation for BAME customers:

  • Swim England’s Guide to engaging Muslim women in swimming
  • Sporting Equals actively promote greater involvement in sport and physical activity by disadvantaged communities, particularly the BAME population. You will find more information and insight on their web site.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGB&T+)

Use the information below to support you to grow swimming participation for LGB&T+ customers:

  • Stonewall work to support individuals to work out how they can make a difference for LGB&T+ people at work, home and in their communities.
  • Gendered Intelligence work with the trans community and those who impact on trans lives. They particularly specialise in supporting young trans people under the age of 21.
  • Pride Sports works to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport and improve access to sport for all LGB&T+ people across the world.

Research informs us that people feel more confident swimming in sessions that are specific to people with similar characteristics to them.

However, it is important that any demographic-specific session is supported by localised data which evidences the need for such a session.

More information can be found in the Ideas for pool programming document in Frontier Three.

Case Study (CS11)Female Lifeguard training project (Luton)
Case Study (CS12)Ladies sessions (Oxley)
Case Study (CS13)Pool training for open water swimming (Active Newcastle)
Guide to engaging Muslim women
Case Study (CS14)Muslim women sessions (Batley)
Case Study (CS15)Transforming the culture of swimming (Swim Dem Crew)