While youth sports participation by children ages 6-12 has dropped 4.5 percent since 2008[i], swimming membership in year-round teams increased 37 percent in the same time period[ii].
Why is swimming growing at such an immense rate? FUN is the number one reason that 99 percent of swim parents stated why their kids swim and swimming tops every category most important to parents[iii].
SwimToday ambassador Dara Torres, a five-time Olympic swimmer-turned-swim-mom, and 13 industry partners are banding together to show non-swimmers and their parents why swimming is the #FunnestSport and provide a warm invitation to join in.
Through SwimToday, teams nationwide are inviting new swimmers and families to experience the sport with incentives such as free swim team trial periods, customized swim caps and promotional materials from kits sent to 1,500 swim teams to use locally. Parents can learn more about participating teams and find those nearest them by searching their zip code at www.SwimToday.org.
“Being a part of a swim team is one of the most fun and most rewarding experiences a child can have. I’ve benefitted from the sport’s values in every aspect of my life and that’s why my nine-year old daughter is a swimmer,” said Torres. “It’s also why I’m so passionate to share with other parents and invite them to understand what the sport has to offer. Once they know, more parents will have swimming at the top of their lists.”
According to research, nearly 80 percent of parents don’t consider swimming as a competitive sport for their kids after completing swim lessons, largely due to a number of common misconceptions parents have about the sport.
Those without experience thought other sports ranked higher in the categories of teamwork, fun, ease of learning, proximity, parental enjoyment, social skills, self-esteem and scholarship opportunities.
On the flipside, parents who experienced swimming easily rated the #FunnestSport higher than other sports in the same categories. [iv]
“This is an important step in re-positioning entry to the sport, taking on the misperceptions and inviting families to enjoy how much fun it is to be part of a team,” said Matt Farrell, USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer. “We’re going to change the mindset, one mom at a time if need be, to share why parents should have their kids give swimming a try. It’s a life-long, non-contact sport for everyone and SwimToday makes it even easier to find where kids of any ability level fit.”
Kicking off the effort to change the minds of non-swimming parents nationwide, Torres will host a session with 40 influential “mommy bloggers” (89 percent of moms vs. 63 percent of dads are highly involved in sports decision making) in New York City on May 27 at Asphalt Green Swim Center. She will share her experiences as a swimmer and a swim mom, address common misconceptions and educate parents on the sport’s top 10 benefits:
· It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby
· Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)
· Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport
· Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started
· Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development
· Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high
· Low risk of injury – No contact makes for a safer environment
· Swimming = total body fitness – Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports
· Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age
· Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport[v]
The campaign is supported by a fun, light-hearted advertising campaign which emphasizes the fun side of the sport. It includes social media materials, print posters, digital ads, bag tags, bumper stickers and a “swim cap certificate” to celebrate the achievement of graduating from a learn to swim program into trying a team. A Public Service Announcement has now generated more than $4 million in donated media time. The culturally-inclusive campaign materials show that kids of all backgrounds and abilities are invited into the sport.
Throughout the summer, parents of Olympic swimmers, including D.A. Franklin (Missy Franklin), Mary Gen Ledecky (Katie Ledecky), Jeannine Leverenz (Caitlin Leverenz), Siu Neal (Lia Neal), Francesca Lee (Felicia Lee) and Pat Dwyer (Conor Dwyer), will join the charge to share with fellow parents the benefits of swimming, through local events, interviews and social media.
Swimming News is courtesy of USA Swimming.