More than 50% of NI parents think swimming “the most important sport for kids”

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Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

For International Learn to Swim Week, STA (Swimming Teachers’ Association) has revealed the findings of a new report, which shows that 62% of parents in Northern Ireland think swimming is the most important sport for children to learn – with 52% saying it is an invaluable life skill.

However, while this research suggests that the majority of parents understand the true importance of swimming, the reality is a lot different with just two-fifths of parents saying they take their children swimming at least once a week, with membership costs and inflexible pool opening times being cited as the main reasons. 



Furthermore, only 10% of the parents surveyed by STA in Northern Ireland said that their child has swimming lessons through their school.

This reveals, unsurprisingly, that there is now an even greater responsibility on parents to ensure their child can swim and is water safe, but as the survey suggests, many don’t have the time or the money – this means that countless children are missing out on the opportunity to learn a vital life skill.

This independent research has been published to coincide with International Learn to Swim Week; a campaign led by STA, a leading educational charity dedicated to the teaching of swimming and lifesaving skills, to promote the importance of learning to swim and water safety education. 

During the week-long campaign, STA will be promoting the importance of children attending regular, structured swimming lessons; and why, especially in the primary years of a child’s life, consideration should be given to prioritising lessons over other paid-for extra-curricular activities. 



STA also want to encourage more families to spare more time to go swimming together; not only to support their child’s swimming lesson progression but because of all the social, health and fitness benefits it can bring to a family. Plus, it is one of only a few activities where families can bond, and play and join in with together.

Zoe Cooper, STA’s Director and a mum of two children under 5 years old, said, “As parents, we know how important it is for our children to learn how to swim and the research positively confirms this, but we now must start to bridge the gap between knowing and doing, and prioritise swimming – ideally through structured lessons, but also socially as a family.



“Learning to swim is a life skill that every child should be given the opportunity to learn, and if children are not being given the opportunity at school, we need to find practical ways to help encourage families to go swimming more often with their children,” explained Zoe.

As a start, during International Learn to Swim Week, parents will be able to download a free swimming pack from, which shares advice on how they can support their child’s swimming journey, and how to make the most of family-fun swimming sessions.

For further information, please visit



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