AROUND 230,000 ADULTS go swimming in Ireland every week, making it the most common sport and exercise activity in the country.
Research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found almost 7 per cent of adults swim every week, with most going to the pool once or twice a week on average.
Women tend to swim more than men, while swimming is less common among people in lower-skilled occupations, disabled people and immigrants from non-English speaking non-EU countries.
More than 70,000 people were interviewed for the study.
“The pattern of results we found suggests that swimming makes an important contribution to public health,” said Dr Pete Lunn of the ESRI, who wrote the report. “Swimming can be undertaken by a broad range of people of different abilities and fitness levels, so the promotion of swimming can play a key role in policy to increase physical activity”.
People are most likely to swim in the West of the country and along the border with Northern Ireland.
The research found that there is a general decline in swimming as people get older. However Dr Lunn said this is likely to change as the present generation of young adults swim far more than their predecessors did and so are more likely to continue as they get older.
The research was jointly published by Swim Ireland, the Irish Sports Council and the ESRI. The full report can be read here.