The impact of a community free swimming programme for young people (under 19) in England

BULLOUGH, Steven, DAVIES, Larissa and BARRETT, David (2015). The impact of a community free swimming programme for young people (under 19) in England. Sport Management Review, 18 (1), 32-44.

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Link to published version:: 10.1016/j.smr.2014.09.001


A national free swimming programme for under 16s in England was a central government initiative to increase participation in 2008/09, although not all local authorities adopted it. One implemented a bespoke free swimming initiative (FSI) for under 19s in the community instead, aiming to improve the health of young people through the programme and provide value for money for managers. The FSI saw 33% of the eligible population participating at least once. However, the programme evaluation demonstrated that, despite cost being removed, participation decreased over the programme. Furthermore, the FSI had a large market penetration effect, where the majority of participants were already swimming regularly prior to the intervention. Overall, the programme provided some health benefits to the more engaged participants, but in terms of wider social benefit there was little evidence to suggest the intervention had any additional impact. The cost per swim of the community investment was almost six times more per head than the central government funded scheme, suggesting that widespread programming did not provide value for money when compared to a more targeted programme.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Issue Title : Managing Sport for Social Change

Accepted 1 September 2014

Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sport Industry Research Centre
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.smr.2014.09.001
Depositing User: Rebecca Jones
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2014 15:08
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2015 15:03

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