Poor pool capacity could hinder baby swimming boom, says research
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Poor pool capacity could hinder baby swimming boom, says research

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The infant private swim school sector that has surged in the UK over the past decade is yet to reach its peak, although growth could yet be checked by a lack of pool capacity, a Swimming Teachers Association (STA) survey has found.

Despite recent Sport England figures showing that overall swimming participation saw an eight per cent drop over the last 12 months, the baby swimming market remains buoyant.

Around 82 per cent of the swim schools which took part in the latest survey from awarding body STA said they had seen a “significant” rise over the last five years in the number of babies (youngsters aged two and under) they teach weekly. The survey, which drew 206 responses from schools which teach a combined 50,000 babies each week, was a follow up to research carried out in 2009, designed to measure the industry’s progress over the past five years.

Almost 86 per cent of respondents said the baby swim market had not yet reached its peak, although many warned that growth could be capped because of pool time availability.

More than half admitted that the increase in demand for lessons compared with pool time availability was a concern; while 58 per cent said the limited number of pools also gave them cause for concern. Just over one third (34 per cent) also cited a lack of adequately qualified teachers as a problem for their business, compared with 24 per cent five years ago.

On a positive note, 60 new swim schools are reported to have opened since the last survey, a growth of more than 27 per cent in five years, and almost 70 per cent of all respondents said they had a waiting list for baby swimming classes.

“The landscape has changed dramatically since we conducted our first survey five years ago, but this survey shows there is still a growing and healthy demand for baby swim teaching and that can only be good news,” said STA head of accounts Zoe Cooper.

“Parents clearly recognise that it is important for their babies to gain confidence in the water and by sending them to baby swim lessons, it means their youngsters are being properly prepared for more formal swimming lessons.”

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The infant private swim school sector that has surged in the UK over the past decade is yet to reach its peak, although growth could yet be checked by a lack of pool capacity, a Swimming Teachers Association (STA) survey has found.
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