Specific benefits of swimming
9. Swimming is both enjoyable and beneficial through
infancy to old age, and there are many aspects to it:
leisure and fun
10. Participation in swimming includes the disabled,
provided that the facilities are accessible. For example, the
swimming team returned from the Sydney Paralympics with a phenomenal
62 medals (12 more than Australia) out of the total Great Britain
medal tally of 131.
11. Swimming can be socially inclusive, if facilities
are provided at a reasonable entrance fee, and if facilities and
programming are sensitive to cultural differences. For example,
the Committee has heard evidence that the sole provision in one
particular community of modern glass-walled pools has caused a
bar on swimming for Muslim women in that area.
12. Swimming courses teach both water safety and
emergency skills. Duncan Goodhew reminded the Committee that he
was able to use resuscitation skills, learned through swimming,
to help save the life of a Member of Parliament in February 2000.
Although the rate of people drowning in the UK has decreased since
1983, the Amateur Swimming Association has given evidence that
the number of children under 14 who drowned in 1999 had increased
since the previous year.
The Ofsted report on swimming at Key Stage 2 highlighted the deficiencies
of some schools in relation to the teaching of water safety.
It seems important to improve the nation's water safety skills,
not just for swimming but for other water-based sports that the
population participates in. The National Curriculum 2000 even
changed the name of the programme of swimming to 'swimming activities
and water safety' to emphasise this.
Evidence from the Royal Life Saving Society UK has pointed towards
a probable adverse effect on the water safety of local communities
should they be left without adequate pool and teaching provision.
13. Sport in general has been recognised as beneficial
to the nation's wellbeing and health. Swimming is uniquely beneficial
across the whole of society, and as the country's most popular
sporting activity it merits appropriate investment.