The latest Sport England Active People Survey figures show that over 2.5 million adults continue to enjoy swimming each week.
The statistics also show that over the last six months there has been a five per cent growth in open water swimming, and over 250,000 adults have improved their swimming ability through teaching and coaching.
In addition, since April more than 25,000 people aged 45 and over, and 17,800 more people from black, asian and minority ethnic communities have started swimming more regularly. Swimming Clubs and competitions have also seen an increase.
ASA Chief Executive, Adam Paker, said: “We are encouraged by the latest Active People results which confirm swimming remains the most popular participation sport in the country.
But BT Sports writes
The number of people taking part in swimming regularly has continued to fall in England despite a sharp rise in the number of women participating in sport at least once a week.
Sport England’s chief executive Jennie Price said swimming has “an awful lot to do” after announcing an overall increase in participation with a big rise for sports such as running and gym attendances.
Swimming experienced another fall of 39,300 to just over 2.5million. Football (down 66,600 to 1.81million) and cycling (down 24,300 to 2.03million) also had drops in numbers taking part, while tennis, cricket, boxing and rugby union had increases.
The number of women playing sport has increased by 148,700, with the overall figure for both sexes being 15.74million in the 12 months to the end of September, up by 245,200 compared to June.
Sport England believes its ‘This Girl Can’ campaign which targeted women has had a big impact, with a promotional video being watched more than 37million times on Facebook and YouTube alone.
In terms of swimming, Price told Press Association Sport: “Swimming is only down 30,000 in these figures but over the year it has lost 180,000 participants. That remains a lot, and although it is good it has not continued to drop as sharply swimming has got an awful lot to do.
“The good thing is they acknowledge now they have a real problem and that there is a long hard road ahead, rather than just claiming the figures are not being measured correctly.”