Why Swimming Needs a Boost

Swimming goggles on poolside

Despite the UK's recent success at the World Swimming Championships 2015 in Russia, recent reports have shown that the number of people in the UK who swim regularly is declining.

Newitts takes a look below at why the government is keen to further promote swimming and remains dedicated to changing the culture and customer experience of the sport.

 

The facts

In June, Sports Insight reported that swimming remained the number one sport in the UK among under-18s and adults, with over 16 million active swimmers in the UK. Furthermore, around 4 times as many people swim as play football whilst there are 50 per cent more swimmers than runners and twice as many swimmers as cyclists.

The benefits

Swimming is the ideal sport if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability. Scientists have proven that regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and strokes, whilst it can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control. In addition to all the above, it's also a lifelong skill that could one day save your life.

London 2012 Olympics

Since the London 2012 Olympics, the number of people participating in sport increased to include swimming, with figures published by Sport England in December 2013 describing an "emerging trend" and a net gain of 125,000 participants in the sport. However, in Sport's England's latest Active People Survey, the results show that there has been a decline of 222,000 people taking part in some kind of sport within the six months up to 31 March 2015, with 144,200 fewer people swimming.

"The number have been flat to declining over time, since the noughties - Adam Parker (ASA chief executive)"

So, why has the Olympic effect started to wear off?

Adam Paker, chief executive of the ASA, formerly known as the Amateur Swimming Association, believes the decline is not a 'blip' and if left unchecked could become part of a longer trend.

Mr Paker said; "The numbers have been flat to declining over time, since the late noughties. What we've seen recently is a sharp decline, and that's where we are particularly concerned."
Mr Paker believes that one of the main reasons for the decline is swimming facilities - pools are getting older over time and there is little money available to make the necessary improvements that will encourage more people to take up the sport. Paker also cites technology as part of the problem - sports which are experiencing the biggest growth are the ones where participants can be interactive and use smartphone apps to track their progress and speed.
In addition, Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England, has said that many pools prioritise swimming clubs and learn to swim sessions above all else, putting off those who just want to turn up and swim. There is often only one lane available for swimmers during session times, and it can often become too overcrowded.
Furthermore, swimming pools have become very expensive, with some pools charging as high as £4.70 for a one-hour session.

Moving forward

In order for sport to work effectively, healthy eating should be actively encouraged. Teachers need to educate children in how to stay healthy using fun and engaging activities. It is also important that schools promote a healthy eating programme to ensure children are receiving the right nutrients to enable them to flourish throughout the school day. Parents must try to compliment their child's daily intake by providing a wholesome evening meal when possible.

Encourage extra-curricular sporting activities

ASA has now appointed a director of participation to encourage more people across the UK to swim regularly and "change consumer behaviour ". ASA's challenge is to protect pools from closure and make an argument for their ongoing economic viability.
Many people remain unaware that they can access swimming pools nearby - something that needs to be widely addressed. Therefore, more needs to be done to increase accessibility, raise awareness and find ways to re-connect the sport with the general public.

 

Why do you think the number of people participating in swimming is in decline?

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