Supplement Feature - January 2022
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Calmer Waters

The 2022 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping


Almost all (94.8%) of those who currently provide learn-to-swim programs said that they have programs for children ages 17 and younger, down from 96% in 2020. Another 71.9% provide learn-to-swim programs for parents and babies or toddlers, such as mommy—or daddy—and me classes. Almost two-thirds (65.2%) said they provide learn-to-swim programs for adults ages 18 and up, and 36.1% provide learn-to-swim programs for seniors. (See Figure 21.)

There are many audiences that tend to be left out when it comes to aquatic programming, with racial and economic disparities weighing heavily on who does and does not learn to swim. In fact, USA Swimming reports that 79% of children in low-income families have little to no swimming ability, and 64% of black children and 45% of Hispanic children have little to no swimming ability, compared with 40% of white children. Addressing these disparities is an important mission, and there are grants and programs across the country that aim to extend the reach of aquatic into these communities, as well as addressing fear of the water.

More than one-third (33.8%) of respondents with learn-to-swim programs said they currently have a low-income outreach program, up from 29.4% in 2020. Another 21% said they engage in minority outreach, up from 17.9% in 2020. And 23.1% offer learn-to-swim programs designed to help the water-phobic overcome their fear, down from 23.7% in 2020. (See Figure 22.)

Y respondents were the most likely to reach out to low-income and minority audiences for their learn-to-swim programs, while rec centers were the most likely to provide learn-to-swim programs to help overcome water fears. A full 60% of Y respondents said they currently engage in outreach to low-income audiences, while 41.7% engaged in outreach to minorities. Nearly half (47.4%) of rec center respondents said they had programs for helping people overcome their fear of the water. (See Figure 23.)