We are excited to launch of our first annual Trends in Outdoor Swimming Report. It includes findings from our survey of more than 2000 new and regular swimmers, as well as interviews with leading figures in the world of outdoor swimming.
"The events of last year prompted us to dig deeper and take an in depth look at trends in outdoor swimming, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to improve our understanding of who swims outdoors and why." says Outdoor Swimmer Founder, Simon Griffiths.
"As you will see, outdoor swimming is an activity that brings its participants a long list of benefits and much joy. It’s uplifting to be part of such an exciting, vibrant and positive sector. An argument for learning to swim is that it could save your life. However, our findings suggest that this may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons to learn to swim."
Key themes emerging from the report include the growth in female participation (up from 50% in 2017 to 65% in 2020), a huge demand for winter swimming and the positive association between outdoor swimming and well-being.
In addition, the report shows that becoming an outdoor swimmer raises people’s awareness of environmental issues and encourages them to take action to reduce pollution and environmental damage.
While outdoor swimming boomed in 2020, the report also confirms the torrid time had by many of the small and independent businesses working in the sector. Last year saw nearly all events be cancelled, travel was practically non-existent, and venue and pool closures, along with restrictions on physical interactions and group sizes, severely hampered coaches’ ability to operate.
Looking forward, we project a mixture of optimism and caution. Once people start swimming outdoors, the majority have a positive experience and only 1% like it less than they thought they would – they are therefore likely to continue. However, the current lockdown will have long-term consequences for businesses in the sector that some will struggle to recover from.