Half a million women give up swimming over body image fears

The Telegraph reports: Almost half a million women in England have given up swimming in the past decade amid fears about how they look in the pool, according to research.

Body Image fears

More than three times as many women as men stopped swimming between 2005 and 2014, with 455,300 – 20 per cent of those who did so 10 years ago – no longer donning their bathing costumes for at least half an hour every week.

That is what counts as “participation” in the Active People Survey, the most comprehensive research into over-16s sports participation in the country.

The last 12 months alone saw 181,700 women quit swimming compared with 63,300 men.

“Swimming is in incredible decline,” Mr Bitel added. “And, yet, the research tells us there are four million people who want to swim but who don’t currently swim.

“There’s no sense of enjoyment, of joie de vivre. They’ve got to get their act together. This is a last-ditch call to them. They’ve got understand what people want and they’ve got to act upon it.”

Mr Lord became the chairman of the ASA in October 2013, ousting its chief executive, who has only just been replaced.

He said: “There is clearly a major issue here and we will be putting all our resources into finding out both the cause of the fall in participation numbers and in identifying how we can move quickly with our partners to reverse that decline.”

The slump in the numbers of those swimming accounted for an overall drop in participation in sport of 125,100 during the 12 months until October. More…

What can be done?

Swimming has always been a very social activity, so capitalizing on this much neglected area is one way forward.

Stamford Meadows Bathing Place

Operating a cafe on site that provides a welcoming, quality, value for money meeting place, makes swimming pools much more popular.

Diving and other sports could be taught and encouraged even if only from the poolside.

An ASK ME! tee-shirt could be worn by lifeguards so that swimmers young and old feel encouraged to improve their skills.

Pictures of outdoor swimming in rivers lakes and at the seaside would inspire youngsters to learn to swim well.

The swimming pool should be seen as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. As schools inspire pupils to reach their potential, swimmers need inspiration to escape from the captivity of the indoor pool to go onto bigger and better things. Swimming in the great outdoors is an end in itself and this needs to be encouraged rather than focusing just on competition.

The ASA and Sport England are in the driving seat for British swimming. Either they promote swimming or allow it to decline, the future is in their hands!

Discover the rich history of British swimming.

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