The purpose for the research will inform and shape the Aquatic sector on how to better address and engage with people from diverse communities.

The aim of this research was to explore the attitudes towards, and the experiences and perceptions of, aquatic activity within African, Caribbean, and Asian communities. We sought to understand the barriers to safe engagement experienced by Black and Asian communities and the ways in which these communities could be encouraged to engage in swimming and aquatic activity.

“Over the past few years there has been significant investment in increasing ethnic diversity in sport and physical activity, but aquatic competence is also a vital skill for all communities living across the country. This research highlights that there are significant pitfalls in aquatic education, these combined with additional barriers faced by ethnically diverse communities, places them at an increased risk of drowning or negative aquatic experience. I urge all involved in the sector to consider this an opportunity to safeguard all communities nationwide by ensuring a baseline aquatic competency is achieved.”
Reyss Wheeler, Lead Researcher

AKD Solutions welcome the acknowledgement by the UK’s five Sports Councils that racism and racial inequality remain significant issues across sport in the UK at all levels and have had a detrimental and disadvantaging impact over many years. ‍

With the publication of the #TellYourStory report and the wider review, the Sports Councils’ have accepted that the recommendations put forward should be used to develop and deliver tangible actions to tackle the issues raised. AKD Solutions hopes this commitment will be a springboard for positive and lasting change.

We are a Black-owned training and development consultancy, which researched and authored #TellYourStory, a lived experience report looking at the impact of race and racism on sporting lives.

In Autumn 2020, we began working with the Chief Executives of UK Sport, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland, Sport England and sportscotland. With the murder of George Floyd, a catalyst, they had joined forces to commit to tackling racism and racial inequalities across their nations. Their goal – to develop a collective plan to help build sporting communities that truly reflect the societies they represent.

Why now?

In the UK, swimming and water-based activities have long been cherished for their physical and mental health benefits. However, the unfortunate reality is that not everyone has equitable access to these opportunities. Historical, social and economic inequalities, coupled with institutional bias, have resulted in African, Caribbean, and Asian communities being significantly underrepresented across all aspects of aquatic engagement.

“In the past, I feared swimming, because as a child I slipped in the swimming pool, and I slipped underwater for several seconds, and I choked on the water and panicked. It wasn’t until I was 26 years old [that] I plucked up the courage to learn to swim.”

Differences between the UK and respondents’ home countries, regarding the way in which swimming is taught and the aquatic activities offered, contributed to the disinterest of participants (especially those from Caribbean backgrounds).

” I’m proud of the hard work and dedication from all involved in bringing this research to light.  The important messages that it brings really highlight the need for all entities involved in aquatic activities to recognise where ethnically diverse communities have not been engaged well enough resulting in lack of awareness, knowledge, and participation. This research needs to be a catalyst for change where the sector works together with organisations that have lived experiences and specialisations so 

that there is a transformational effect.  around and be best for all. I want to see statistics that are better from a water safety perspective, I want to see more ethnically diverse participation in all aquatic-related activity, and I want to see an aquatics industry that reflects the people in places where we live and breathe.  I want all of this and I believe this research will be a fulcrum for the sector to pivot” Ladi Ajayi, Head of Sport

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Download #OurSwimStory Summary

#OurSwimStory involved landmark interactions with Black, Asian, and other ethnically diverse populations regarding their engagement with aquatic activity and water safety.

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