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United Kingdom: number of outdoor watersport participants in 2018, by activity

In an annual survey, conducted with 12,790 adult respondents in 2018, the most popular watersport activites in the United Kingdom (UK) were established. According to the survey, roughly 10 million people in the UK spent some leisure time at the beach in 2018. The number of beach goers has significantly increased in recent years, by more than 30 percent in four years. The next most popular activities are coastal walking and outdoor swimming.

Recreational boating

Around 690 thousand households in the UK own a boat, of which roughly half are either a canoe or a kayak and about a fifth are sailboats, followed by motor boats and windsurfers. Boating participation in the UK kept stable with slight fluctuation with approximately 7.3 percent of people in the UK going boating in 2018. The majority of boating in the UK takes place in the South East and West, followed by Scotland and the North West.


Swimming participation has slightly decreased in England to roughly 4.5 million people who go swimming at least twice a month. However, overall in the UK, outdoor swimming participation has gradually increased from 4.2 million people in 2015 to 6.1 million people in 2018, who went swimming outdoors at least once during the year.

Leading outdoor watersport activities in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2018, by number of participants

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Release date

April 2019


United Kingdom

Survey time period


Number of respondents

12,790 respondents

Special properties


Method of interview

Omnibus survey

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Statistics on "Water sports in the United Kingdom (UK)"

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