Poll: Should all non-swimmers be offered free swimming lessons?
More than nine million adults in England are unable to swim, a survey has revealed.
A new report released by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) shows that 20% of men and 22% of women aged over 14 in England cannot swim, with the highest number of non-swimmers above 65.
The report, which also suggested that 2.13 million adults want to learn to swim, calls on policy makers to ensure swimming is accessible to all.
Edward Lord, chair of the ASA group board, said: "Our manifesto calls on political parties to support the ASA in our three aims of ensuring more people have the opportunity to learn to swim, encouraging more people to swim regularly and supporting the development of emerging talent to compete on the world stage.
"We have a great England Talent Programme and Club network, and we are working closely with pool operators and partners to develop local aquatic projects that encourage more people to take to the water.
"But we also need the support of local and national policy makers to help ensure good quality, affordable, aquatic facilities remain available to all.
"That's why our manifesto calls on politicians, officials and industry leaders to work with us to support and grow the only sport that saves lives."
The report also showed that swimming is the most popular participation sport in England, with more than 2.6 million adults doing 30 minutes of swimming at least once a week.
ASA chief executive Adam Paker said many adults suffer later in life after missing out on learning to swim at school.
He said: "The statistics released today show there is a great desire for people who missed out on learning to swim while at school to get in the water and take advantage of all the social and health benefits that swimming provides.
"ASA adult swimming sessions are held at sites across the country and each year over a thousand adults take part in our swimming programmes which are aimed at helping people to learn, or improve, their swimming no matter what their age or background.
"There are many reasons why people may not feel confident in the water or are nervous about going to a pool, so we are working closely with community groups and local partners to identify and break down these barriers, and encourage the millions of adults who want to become a better swimmer to do so."
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