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Children participating in swimming activities in England 2010-2018

Swimming is the most popular sport among 5 to 10 year olds in England by far. In an annual governmental survey, it was found that half of children in said age group had been participating in either swimming, diving or lifesaving activities. The second most popular type of sport was football, which becomes more popular overall as children get older. Among 11 to 15 year olds roughly a third had been swimming in the past four weeks, however almost half had been playing football at this point.

17 million people participate in outdoor water sport activities

   Water sports un the United Kingdom (UK) show a variety of activities that people take part in. In 2018, approximately 17 million people took part in outdoor water sport activity. There has been an increase in outdoor swimming overall, yet a decrease in people who go swimming on a regular basis.

1.2 million recreational boats owned in the UK

Recreational boating represents a big part of the outdoor recreation and water sports market in the UK. Approximately 700 thousand households own 1.2 million boats, of which the most popular type is the canoe/kayak, followed by small sailing boats. Half of boating activity takes place during summer time and 43 percent people do not always use a lifejacket.

Share of children participating in swimming, diving or lifesaving activities in the last 4 weeks in England from 2010 to 2018

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Release date

August 2018


United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

2010/11 to 2017/18**

Number of respondents


Age group

5-15 years

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

* Previous base:
2017/18: 5-10 year olds n= 909; 10-15 year olds n = 671;
2016/17: 5-10 year olds: n= 967; 10-15 year olds n=638.
2015/16: 5-10 year olds: n= 1,096; 10-15 year olds n=684.
2015/14: 5-10 year olds: n= 1,104; 10-15 year olds n=721.
2013/14: 5-10 year olds: n= 1,233; 10-15 year olds n=786.
2012/13: 5-10 year olds: n= 1,136; 10-15 year olds n=801.
2011/12: 5-10 year olds: n= 1,040; 10-15 year olds n=771.
2010/11: 5-10 year olds: n= 1,590; 10-15 year olds n=1,116.

Survey periods run April to March.

The source provides the following additional information: "Data for 5-10 year olds relates to out of school activities only. Data for 11-15 years olds relates to activities undertaken both in and out of school."

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Statistics on "Sport in England: Public Funding and Participation in the UK "

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