Body confidence amongst mums is preventing children from learning to swim

12 August 2016

A staggering one in two British mothers (53 per cent) admit they have been put off teaching their child to swim - because of fear of being seen in a bathing suit.


New research from leisure centre operator, Everyone Active, which operates Vale Farm Sports Centre in partnership with Brent Council, has revealed how body conscious the nation's mothers are. Nearly 40 per cent (38 per cent) say they have avoided water-related activities with their children because they involve being in swimwear.


Sadly, the lack of confidence left one in three (38 per cent) delegating swimming duties to their other half, due to a lack of confidence in their own body.


A further 40 per cent claim they don't feel confident getting into the water, and a quarter (27 per cent) said they can't remember the last time they went for a swim.


The knock-on effect left 38 per cent of those surveyed expressing concerns that their child lacks confidence in the water, with an astounding one in ten revealing their child cannot swim and more than a third (38 per cent) unable to describe their child as a 'strong swimmer'.


The study by Everyone Active, who are launching women-only swimming lessons to encourage more women and mothers to feel comfortable and confident while in the water, also found that 67 per cent of those surveyed said they do not feel confident enough to wear a bikini.


Becky Adlington, who supports the Everyone Active School Swim project and runs the Becky Adlington's Swim Stars Learn to Swim programme, commented on the research findings, "It is such a shame seeing these statistics. As a woman I understand it but more definitely needs to be done to help and encourage women to feel more confident.


"Swimming is an amazing sport with so many health benefits and for kids it's even more important with it being a life skill - that's why I started Becky Adlington's Swim Stars. It's given me a lifetime of happy memories and would hate to think how many other families are missing out."


A self-conscious 65 per cent revealed they feel judged when they put on a swimming suit or bikini, with just under half (42 per cent) describing it as 'awkward'. A further 30 per cent went so far as to label the experience 'horrible'.


It also emerged that women don't start to accept their bodies and feel happy in their swimwear until they reach 27 - although 79 per cent said they still don't feel comfortable being naked in a public changing room.


Chris Williams, Everyone Active Contract Manager for Brent, said: "We are shocked at some of the statistics revealed by this research. We have ensured that swimming provisions across our centre are not only exemplary but also create a secure and comfortable environment for female swimmers and their children.


"In an age obsessed with body perfection, we actively support and encourage the celebration of women of all body shapes. Our women-only sessions will hopefully encourage more women to get in the water by making them feel comfortable and allowing them to wear whatever they feel happy swimming in."


The survey of 1,000 mothers across the UK also found that only 31 percent remember their own mother being confident in swimwear.


However, over half (52 per cent) of those surveyed confirmed they did teach their child swim, either alone or with their partner.


But 38 per cent admit they never take their child to swim and a further 66 per cent believe it is a parent's duty to teach their child the key life skill, opposed to 14 per cent who think it's the school's responsibility.


A total of 88 Everyone Active centres across the UK have pools, and the sports and leisure provider runs an award-winning Learn to Swim programme. To create a safe and comfortable environment for women, not only have they introduced women-only swim sessions at selected sites, but also adopted a progressive approach with the introduction of all- female lifeguards during certain sessions, relaxed the rules around swimwear to allow for shorts and t-shirts to be worn and refurbished changing rooms with better grooming and lighting facilities.


To find out more about swimming with Everyone Active, visit