MINISTER RING LAUNCHES SWIM IRELAND “SWIM HEALTHY” INITIATIVE TO PROMOTE RECREATIONAL SWIMMING COUNTRYWIDE

  • Research shows swimming to be most popular form of exercise for Irish adults – over 230,000 adults swim weekly.
  • Minister emphasises role of swimming in combating degenerative disease.
  • Redeveloped  website at heart of new information campaign.
  • Rugby’s Shane Horgan endorses Swim Ireland initiative.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Mr Michael Ring TD, has launched a major initiative by Swim Ireland “Swim Healthy” which is aimed at promoting recreational swimming countrywide.  The initiative comes on the back of a major piece of research jointly published by The Irish Sports Council and Swim Ireland and conducted by the ESRI. “Swimming in Ireland: A Statistical Analysis” is based on three representative surveys with a combined sample of over 70,000 adults.  The report is written by Dr Eilis Kelly and Dr Pete Lunn.  The research report and the initiative were both launched at a function in Dublin earlier this morning, 29 January 2013.

Speaking at the launch Minister Ring said:  “As Minister for Sport, I believe it is extremely important that people are encouraged and given opportunities to participate in sport and physical activity. Swimming is one of the best forms of physical exercise for developing and maintaining high levels of physical fitness can play a key role in combating heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis. It is something most people can participate in from a very early age and right throughout their lives. Swimming is a most basic, natural and efficient way of taking exercise.”

Among the key findings of the research were:-

  • Swimming has become the most popular form of sport and exercise for Irish adults.
  • Women tend to swim more often than men and swim for health reasons rather than competition.
  • The West of Ireland and the border counties enjoy the highest level of participation.
  • Swimming can play a key role in combating heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis.

The “Swim Healthy” initiative is aimed at everyone who is interested in enjoying a healthy lifestyle.  It is particularly aimed at educating adults about swimming, both encouraging them to participate themselves and to encourage their young people to do so at the earliest possible stage.  “Swimming is the form of exercise that can be taken up at any stage in the lifecycle and can be continued for a full lifetime” according to Sarah Keane.

Among the key elements in the “Swim Healthy” initiative are:-

  • An upgraded Swim Ireland website (www.swimireland.ie) which is now the “go to” place to find out about swimming in Ireland.  The website includes a database of all pools in Ireland and also provides information on courses, instructors and clubs.
  • A quality programme to accredit and licence Swim Ireland teachers and coaches to the highest standard.
  • A roll-out of the Swim Ireland “Learn to Swim” programme.
  • Promotion of the country’s swimming clubs as the place to go for those interested in becoming more competent and/or being more competitive.
  • Utilising the services of other sportsmen and women who see the value of swimming as a wonderful way of keeping fit.  Rugby’s Shane Horgan is a recent covert to recreational swimming.

Speaking of the initiative Swim Ireland CEO Sarah Keane said that while swimming had long been recognised as an excellent form of exercise that there had been no nationwide concerted effort to promote the activity.  “Working with the Irish Sports Council on the research helped quantify the opportunity for swimming to make a real contribution to the health of the nation .We have analysed the research and in doing so identified a real need to provide more information for people on both how to learn to swim and also where to swim.  Unlike other forms of recreational sport which do not need a specific facility swimming in Ireland, for most of the year, requires a pool”.

“For swimming to realise its potential we need many different elements to come together.  We see our role as being a catalyst for swimming, as working with all of the parties involved to make it as easy as possible for people of all ages to become involved.That includes working with the owners of facilities, with instructors, with coaches and with those providing swimming courses.Ultimately we would love to see all teachers delivering the Swim Ireland “Learn to Swim” programme which we have devised with expert input to ensure it delivers the best instruction by the best instructors in a safe and supervised environment”.

“Hence the starting point for our initiative – the provision of detailed information about the nuts and bolts of the sport of swimming such as how to get involved, when to get involved, where to get involved etc….  It is essential that we make it as simple as possible for people to become involved and we certainly believe that our new website facilitate that. We have invested a great deal of time and effort in trying to create an information outlet that answers questions in relation to swimming in Ireland or points you in the right direction”.

She said that this is the beginning of the campaign; the first initiative and Swim Ireland would continue to upgrade the programme on a continuous basis by working with relevant parties in the industry”.

Welcoming the initiative John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council, commended Swim Ireland for their participation with the Irish Sports Council (ISC) in the research which he said had pointed the way to the initiative being announced.  He said that the research had been the first sports specific research ever undertaken by the ISC.

He said that while the research was important that the response by Swim Ireland to it was even more significant.  “The research indicated that there has been a strong growth in swimming in recent years.  Instead of resting on that success Swim Ireland has sought to build on it by making it easier for people to access information in relation to pools and classes and also in providing better swimming instruction.  They are to be complimented on their initiative which can only be good for the health of the country.

Speaking of the research co-author Dr Pete Lunn of the ESRI said: “The pattern of results we found suggests that swimming makes an important contribution to public health. Swimming can be undertaken by a broad range of people of different abilities and fitness levels, so the promotion of swimming can play a key role in policy to increase physical activity.   The findings also reveal that the increased involvement of women in sport has knock-on effects for the next generation. People whose mothers were active in sport and exercise when they were children are much more likely to become regular swimmers. “

To read the report in full, please click on the link below:

Swimming in Ireland A Statistical Guide

Ends

For further information, please contact:-

Trish Mayon, Swim Ireland  Tel: +353 1 6251138

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