Sport England research confirms massive growth in outdoor swimming

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It is what we have long believed, but new figures confirm that outdoor swimming is undergoing a period of massive growth. Research from the latest Active Lives Survey from Sport England revealed that more than 4.1 million people swam in lakes, lochs, rivers and seas between November 2017 and 2018. Additionally, the amount of people who regularly went open water swimming in the previous 28 days also rose. The figures showed that 490,660 people went open water swimming in the last 28 days between November 2017 and 2018 – a massive increase on the 266,500 people recorded in the November 2016 to 2017 survey.

“We’re delighted that so many more people are taking the plunge and trying open water swimming,” said Sharon Lock, Swim England Open Water Development Officer. “It’s great to see the numbers of regular open water swimmers is also on the increase.”

It confirms more anecdotal evidence that we as swimmers have observed around the country: the growth of organised events and races; more swimmers at commercial venues; more venues opening up through the winter to cater to the demands of increasing numbers of winter swimmers inspired by increased media coverage of the mental as well as physical benefits of swimming outdoors; booming memberships of outdoor swimming clubs; more groups springing up around the country; not to mention the 40% growth in Outdoor Swimmer Magazine subscribers since 2017.

Photo: Every month we send Ella Foote to swim with a local swim group. In the June issue of Outdoor Swimmer Magazine she swims with Bude Open Water Swimmers.

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Issue 53 September 2021

  • The Climate Swim – Reporting from Lewis Pugh's 10-day training camp in Iceland ahead of his 'Final Stand'
  • A River Fit To Swim In? – Ella Foote explains how to identify a river clean enough for a dip
  • Carnage and Beauty – Olympic bronze medalist Cassie Patten gives some tips on feeding and nutrition
  • My Swim Story – How Verity Green became the first deaf British woman to swim the English Channel
  • History – The strange and lucrative history of marathon swimmers appearing on cigarette cards
  • 10 Year Anniversary – Founder of Outdoor Swimmer magazine Simon Griffiths on 10 years of publishing

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