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Free swimming in Wales revisited staying aflo_Alex McInch.pdf (849.71 kB)
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Free swimming in Wales revisited: Staying afloat or in at the deep end?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 14:52 authored by Alex McInch, Nicola BoltonNicola Bolton


Research Question

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of free swimming in Wales, UK – some 19 years after its inception.

Research Methods

A mixed-methods research design was adopted that included (a) analysis of documentary sources, (b) semi-structured interviews with 21 local authorities, (c) 5 stakeholder-engagement workshops, (d) a survey to all with an interest in free swimming (n = 534). Data were collected nationally throughout Wales, UK.


The results demonstrate that the perennial barriers to free swimming are omnipresent. These include the associated costs, transport, time, and intrapersonal perspectives. The results also reveal that marketing and promotion of free swimming is tokenistic and needs stronger resourcing. It is also reported that more explicit partnerships with key stakeholders (e.g. Swim Wales) would make the programme stronger and more sustainable.


This research is of use to several free-swimming stakeholders across several different levels. Policy makers, sport and leisure managers, as well as deliverers of free-swimming, can use the findings to shape and enhance future policy and practice.


Published in

Managing Sport and Leisure


Taylor & Francis


  • VoR (Version of Record)


McInch, A., & Bolton, N. (2023) 'Free swimming in Wales revisited: staying afloat or in at the deep end?', Managing Sport and Leisure, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/23750472.2023.2217186

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Alex McInch Nicola Bolton

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Sport Management and Development

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


  • en

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