London Marathon Foundation has joined the Black Swimming Association at 10 Downing Street this World Drowning Prevention Day
The London Marathon Foundation joined the Black Swimming Association (BSA) at 10 Downing Street today (25 July) to discuss inclusivity and diversity in aquatics following a recent BSA report, #OurSwimStory, which highlights the barriers to participation for ethnically diverse communities.
Catherine Anderson, Executive Director of the Foundation, attended the meeting on World Drowning Prevention Day, to support the BSA’s “critical work to make swimming and other aquatic activities more accessible and inclusive for Black, Asian and other underrepresented communities.”
Previous research by Sport England has found that 95 per cent of Black adults do not swim (Sport England Active Lives Survey, 2021). The BSA seeks to address this alarming inequality through their life-changing work calling for equitable access for African, Caribbean and Asian communities to vital water safety education, drowning prevention and by highlighting the benefits of aquatics.
The London Marathon Foundation, one of the UK’s major funders of initiatives that Inspire Activity for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, has been funding the BSA since 2021, when it awarded the organisation £550,000 to deliver water safety and water confidence programmes to empower people from marginalised communities to take part in aquatic activities such as swimming, rowing and surfing.
Part of the funding from the Foundation has contributed to the BSA’s new report, #OurSwimStory, which explores the aquatic behaviours, attitudes and experiences of ethnically diverse communities in the UK. Published on Wednesday 19 July, the report engaged more than 1,400 participants from Black, Asian and other ethnically underrepresented communities, and found 48 per cent of respondents did not know how to stay safe in water, and that a fear of water (44 per cent), body consciousness (especially concerning hair for 33 per cent of Black respondents) and financial cost (31 per cent) were three of the main barriers to participating in aquatic activity.
The report makes 11 recommendations for the aquatics sector to address these barriers to participation and outlines ways to provide culturally relevant support to promote diversity in aquatics, including through inclusive policy planning, training an ethnically diverse workforce and increasing access to water safety knowledge, skills and resources for ethnically diverse communities.
Catherine Anderson, Executive Director of the London Marathon Foundation, said: “Our mission at the London Marathon Foundation is to Inspire Activity, particularly for marginalised groups who may not have the same access to sport and physical activity as others.
“It’s an honour to have joined the Black Swimming Association at their roundtable discussion at 10 Downing Street today, highlighting their critical work to help make swimming and other aquatic activities more accessible and inclusive for Black, Asian and other underrepresented communities. Thanks to the #OurSwimStory report, we have a greater understanding of the practical and culturally relevant support that can be provided for these groups, so that people of all backgrounds can confidently take part in aquatic activities and lead active and healthy lives.”
The executive summary of #OurSwimStory is available to read here.
The Foundation is the parent charity of London Marathon Events (LME), which organises Swim Serpentine, London’s premier festival of outdoor swimming that is returning to Hyde Park on Saturday 16 September 2023. As a non-competitive event which is fully marshalled, Swim Serpentine offers a unique opportunity for participants to brave open-water swimming in a supported setting.
To increase the diversity of communities engaged with the event in 2023, LME has introduced new initiatives, including: an upcoming campaign to amplify the stories and experiences of diverse swimmers with the first story releasing in August; a planned open-water taster session; and, following the success of the initiative in their other events, the launch of community entries for Swim Serpentine.