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Swim England calls for more proactivity in prescribing swimming

Swim England has today called for the medical profession to be more proactive in prescribing swimming as part of a programme of activity. The National Governing Body is promoting #LoveSwimming stories of people who enjoy the benefits of swimming to help manage a variety of medical conditions and aid recovery. 

Anthony swimming underwater at Manchester Aquatics pool

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England said: 

“Swimming is an ideal activity which can help people manage a range of medical conditions and we are calling on the medical profession to consider recommending swimming to people who would benefit from improved physical health.

“As part of our Love Swimming campaign, a range of people from all over the UK have told inspirational stories of how swimming has transformed their physical health. 

“As the government and medical profession increasingly move to prescribe exercise as a conduit to improved physical health, we believe that swimming and wider aquatic activity is increasingly the answer for many people and are today calling on health professionals to consider prescribing swimming in ever increasing numbers.”

Swim England today launched the latest phase of its Love Swimming campaign focussing on individuals from across the UK who were prescribed swimming to aid a range of medical conditions. They are all strong advocates of the power of swimming to improve their medical conditions including Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and chronic pain.

The campaign is launched ahead of World Health Day on 7 April. 

Evidence shows that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a health professional, yet nearly three quarters of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients due to either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence. (Source: Moving Medicine)

The current Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has called for a “culture shift” and for medical professionals to act on the evidence that activity, such as swimming or long walks, can cut the risk of illness and boost survival from major diseases.

To showcase the physical benefits and the impact of prescribing swimming, Swim England have created three short films which share the stories of individuals who have experienced phenomenal physical health benefits as a result of swimming. 

Steve Wright, 62, has Type 2 diabetes, and was diagnosed nearly a decade ago but had never taken his health seriously. After having a stroke in 2018, he realised he needed to take action. He worked with a medical professional who suggested he try swimming and he has seen remarkable health improvements in the last six months. His diabetes is now under control and he’s looking forward to a healthier future.

Treatment for Type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly 9% of the annual NHS budget, totalling an enormous £8.8 billion every year. 3.8 million people in England are already diagnosed and an additional 200,000 new diagnoses each year. (Source: Gov.uk 2018)

On his involvement in the Love Swimming campaign, the Chester-le-Street local said:

“The benefits of swimming physically, mentally, socially, have been massive. To be able to share my story and be part of Swim England’s campaign is brilliant. If I can help inspire just one person to give swimming a go, I will be absolutely delighted.”

The campaign video series also includes Wanda Stockdale who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her early 30s and has described swimming as “absolutely life-changing”. Paul Kirby who found swimming had a phenomenal impact on his health when his desk-job resulted in a severe back injury and resulting limp.

Watch Wanda's story

To find out more about swimming facilities near you, visit swimming.org/poolfinder and #LoveSwimming.