Get Inspired: How to get into Swimming

Keri-Anne Payne

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If you've been thinking about dipping a toe in the water, here's Olympic open water swimming silver medallist Kerri-Anne Payne with her top tips.
Fast Answers
Why get into swimming?Swimming can boost your mood and increase positivity & sleep quality.
Who is it for?From learning to swim to elite competitions, anyone can enjoy being in the water.
Is there a cheap option?For a small fee, most council pools offer a pay-as-you-go option.
What if I want a proper workout30 minutes of swimming laps of the pool equates to 45-60 minutes of land-based exercise. That's a proper workout.
Can I take it to another level?Joining a swimming club and training regularly is your best bet to become a swimming star!
Is there a disability option?Swimming clubs throughout the UK offer para-swimming sessions for all levels of disabilities. See below for more info.
Is there a family option?Take the kids to a local pool and have fun with inflatables, floats and slides!

Swimming is as much a recreational activity as it is an elite sport. Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK use swimming as a way to keep fit, relax and have fun.

There are more than 1,500 swimming clubs in the UK, and they provide the best foundation for those looking to develop as swimmers. Visit the British Swimming,Swim Ulster,Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales websites for information about the different membership schemes.


David Williams with three young people swimming in a ppl

One of the nation's most popular activities, swimming really is for anyone and everyone. Done at your own pace, with a number of different strokes to try out, you can enjoy a swim all year round. British Swimming has some great resources if you want to improve your stroke, get a fitness programme, want to join a relay or have questions about water safety.

Swimming Lessons

swimming lesson with young people

Learning to swim is an important life skill and a great way to keep active. Although you might think swimming lessons are for children, thousands of adults each year are taking the plunge and learning to swim at adult only swimming classes. You can use British Swimming's handy pool finder to find your local pool and read their Get Started section if it's been a while since you were last in the pool. You can also find out more on learning to swim in Wales,Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Competitive racing

swimming race

Do you have what it takes to take swimming to the next level? The world of competitive swimming is challenging and it requires ambition and determination with most swimmers training 5 to 6 times a week. The best way to get into competitive swimming is by joining a local swimming club from there you could progress to the regional and national events. There are competitions for all age groups, including the Masters competitions where the oldest age bracket is 100 - 104!

Women- only swimming

Women only swimming

Women-only swimming sessions are all about getting in the pool and enjoying yourself in a relaxed atmosphere. Whatever your age, shape, religious beliefs or swimming ability, there's no need to ever feel self-conscious as everyone is there for the same reason, to have fun and get active. Contact your local pool to find out when their next women-only session is, and bring some friends along to make it a real social occasion.

Open Water

open water swimming

Most of us think of swimming as an indoor activity and done in a pool, however open water swimming is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. The transition from indoor to open water whether it be a lake, river or reservoir is fairly simple- just watch out, the cold water can be a shock to the system! You can find lots of useful information about technique, equipment and keeping safe on the British Swimming website. And if you'd like to talk to some like minded folk, The Outdoor Swimming Society was set up to promote wild swimming and has links to many outdoor swim groups throughout the UK.

Family Swim

man and his boy in a swimming pool

Swimming is a perfect leisure activity for all the family. Whether you are helping the kids with their swimming technique, whizzing down a flume or playing with floats and inflatables, you're guaranteed a good time. And the best thing is, you won't even realise you're burning calories! For a small fee you can take the children to the local council run pool at a weekend - the hardest part will be trying to get them out of the water at the end. Find a family session at your local pool.



Swimming is one of the most popular choices of activity for disabled adults and children as physical disabilities. The sensory nature of water can be beneficial to those with emotional or behavioural disorders and learning to swim is a great way to socialise and make new friends. Contact your local pool to learn about para-swim sessions. If you're looking to compete, you will need to be assessed to determine your ability level and find out your classification. Find out more here.

Synchronised swimming

Synchronised swimming

Synchronised swimming (synchro) is a mixture of swimming, dance and gymnastics. Swimmers perform a synchronised routine of elaborate moves in the water, either on their own, in a pair, a trio or in teams, accompanied by music. To succeed you'll need to be comfortable in the water and have great strength, endurance, flexibility and grace. If you want to get involved, ask your local synchronised swimming club about taster sessions. You can use British Swimming's pool finder to get started.

Aqua fitness classes

Aqua fitness class

Don't like having your head under water? Or maybe you are looking for a different kind of gym class? Aqua fitness is the activity for you. Different classes offer different techniques, but you can expect to work with aqua noodles, kickboards and/or hydro discs giving you a full body workout. It's also perfect for recovering from injury or illness as the water supports the body, putting less stress on your joints and muscles. It's suitable for all ages and abilities, so wherever you are in the UK, find your local class.

Water Spin classes

water spinning

These combine the exhilaration of traditional studio spinning and the benefits of water-based fitness classes, to give you an excellent cardiovascular workout . For competitive racers, cycling in water is good for rehabilitation from injury, or to protect vulnerable parts of the body, but is also beneficial to train in water when carrying out recovery sessions after a race. But for newbies to aqua-fitness, water spinning is an accessible and fun way to train and offers a new challenge to get stuck in to!

Volunteering & Coaching

hands of a volunteer holding a bell on the edge of a pool

Whether you have swam in the past or just have a keen interest in developing talent, information about coaching opportunities are available through the swimming organisation in Scotland,Wales,England and Northern Ireland.Sport Coach UK can also steer you in the right direction.

If you would like to use your skills to help a local club but don't fancy coaching, find out about volunteering opportunities in Scotland,Wales,England and Northern Ireland.Join in UK, Volunteer Scotland and Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland can also help you find a club that needs attention.

Aspire to be like: Rebecca Adlington

Inspire to be like Rebecca Adlington

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into swimming near you.

2. Use British Swimming's pool finder. and get swimming near you.

3. Share your story and inspire others.

Are you inspired to try Swimming? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visiting us on Facebook or email us on

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.