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Swim England’s Water Wellbeing programme

Water can break down barriers that have helped Swim England's Water Wellbeing programme thrive. Water provides comfort for those experiencing a variety of health conditions - both mental and physical. It offers opportunities and a supportive environment for inactive people to take back control, with research proving it to be an effective form of pain relief.

Water Wellbeing plays a key role in Swim England's commitment to creating a happier, healthier and more successful nation through swimming. The Water Wellbeing model takes a whole pool approach to ensure that the facility, staffing and programming are addressed to make the pool an inclusive, attractive and supportive environment for the inactive.

Almost half a million pounds worth of funding from Sport England has helped move the Water Wellbeing programme forward through to 2020 and beyond, encouraging all adults to get active. Sport England research in 2017 revealed there are around 15 million people in England with at least one long-term health condition, while 59 per cent of people aged over 60 in England have a long-term health condition. With almost 25 per cent of the population by 2045 set to be aged over 65, it is more important than ever to promote the health benefits of swimming.

Through Water Wellbeing, a bridge has been built between the medical profession and the swimming industry, proving a valuable source of recruiting new customers for leisure centres. This became more pertinent following Swim England's Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Swimming a report in 2017, which highlighted the opportunity for swimming and wider aquatic activity to support people with health conditions to get active.

The water helps to remove some of the barriers to land exercise, including pain and limited movement. Elaine McNish, Swim England Head of Health and Wellbeing said: "We're working with operators to effectively support them to get people with health conditions into the pool, because we know that these people are more likely to be less active. We also know that, for some of them, often a confidence issue trying to get into the swimming pool. It's not something they necessarily have done for a long time. We recognise, from the evidence, the massive benefits of getting these people active, particularly in the water, as people who struggle to exercise on dry land can be active in the water."

Water Wellbeing has helped to deliver a series of success stories. In one case, a participant was able to cancel planned surgery for a knee replacement due to improvements in his mobility. Another man, Paul has witnessed the ability of aquatic exercise to reduce pain. He said: "I've managed to reduce the drugs I'm taking. With a back condition, at the end of the day you get tired and the pain kicks in, so it's very difficult to sleep. By doing these exercises, I can get a good night's sleep and at the same time reduce my drugs, it's a winner all round!"

Also, a YouGov poll in 2018, commissioned by Swim England, revealed that almost half a million people have reduced, or no linger take, medication for their mental health condition as a result of swimming. Water Wellbeing is made possible by the relationship between Swim England and its partners, including the Richmond Group of Charities, Sport England, Versus Arthritis, Activity Alliance, Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and many more.

For further information, visit Swim England's Health and Wellbeing page or email health@swimming.org


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