Conference room with large screen announcing BSA research launch

The Black Swimming Association shares new research findings

The Black Swimming Association (BSA) have released their latest research under the banner #OurSwimStory. The research investigated the aquatic experiences, barriers and behaviours of the UK’s Black and Asian communities and sought to understand how these communities could be encouraged to engage more in swimming and aquatic activities.

The motivation behind the BSA’s research is these headline statistics: 95% of black adults and 80% of black children do not swim. In Asian communities, the figures are similar at 93% and 78%. Not only are millions of people missing out on an enjoyable and beneficial activity but they are proportionally more at risk of drowning than people from communities which have higher levels of engagement with water.

The research involved surveys, forums and unstructured interviews with over 1,400 participants from Black, Asian and other underrepresented communities across seven major cities in England and Wales. Key themes that came out of the research included early experiences, parental engagement, lack of water safety awareness and socio-economic barriers. It is apparent that many people from marginalised communities not only lack water safety knowledge but they are also unaware of what they need to know.

An anecdote from Ed Acura, one of the founders of the BSA, illustrates this. He explained how his mother has a very robust approach to water safety: “Water is dangerous. Don’t go near it. Ever.” While Ed provoked a laugh with his story, the point is serious. Many children are simply kept away from water.

However, as another speaker at the event pointed out, this approach is flawed. He described how living in East London, he didn’t think he was ever further than a kilometre from water, whether that’s a canal, river or reservoir. As a high proportion of drownings result from accidental immersion, the keep-out-to-keep-safe approach is ineffective.

The launch event took place at PWC’s office in Central London (PWC are a funding partner of the BSA) and invitees included representatives of governing bodies of both swimming and other water sports, leisure operators and water safety organisations. The executive summary of the report, including the BSA’s initial recommendations, is available on the BSA website.

Find out more:

Direct link to report: AKD-OurSwimStory-BSA-Exec-Summary-Final.pdf (

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.