Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Second Report


Benefits of sport

8. There are many benefits of sport, including swimming, which have been outlined in memoranda to the Committee:

Specific benefits of swimming

9. Swimming is both enjoyable and beneficial through infancy to old age, and there are many aspects to it:

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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] The Ofsted report on swimming at Key Stage 2 highlighted the deficiencies of some schools in relation to the teaching of water safety.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

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.

10   A Sporting Future for All: the Government's Plan for Sport, March 2001 Back

11   Ev 51 Back

12   A Sporting Future For All: the Government's Plan for Sport, March 2001 Back

13   QQ 24, 25 Back

14   Q 80 Back

15   Ev 44 Back

16   Ofsted Report, Swimming in Key Stage 2, November 2000 Back

17   Ev 68 Back

18   Ev 106 Back

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Prepared 15 January 2002