Kids want to swim. And, new research shows, they want to do more than just learn how to swim. They want to participate in swimming as a sport. Parents, however, still see swimming as a skill to learn, rather than a fun, lifelong sport.
Ten industry partners, including USA Swimming, are collaborating on a summer-long campaign called SwimToday, led by five-time Olympian and 12-time medalist, Dara Torres. Launching today, the lighthearted campaign proclaims swimming as “the funnest sport there is” and showcases its many benefits in an effort to bring more kids who know how to swim into the sport of swimming.
According to the 2014 State of the Competitive & Fitness Swimming Industry Report by Sports Marketing Surveys, the exclusive research provider to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, nearly 80 percent of parents overlook swimming when choosing organized sports activities for their children after they learn to swim. Most notably, parents whose children had never tried swimming perceived it to be less fun than other sports. However, parents of swimmers rated the sport at the top in fun, teamwork, confidence-building and health and fitness once they gave it a try.
The campaign is endorsed and supported by 10 leading swimming industry partners, including membership organizations, coaches associations, swimsuit and equipment manufacturers, swimming media, and technology partners. The “Funnest Sport” campaign will also address common misconceptions about the sport, encouraging more parents to consider swimming as a youth sport option for their children.
Torres, a lifelong swimmer, entered her first international swimming competition at age 14 and in 2008 became the oldest swimmer to compete in an Olympic Games. Now a “swim mom” herself, she cheers her daughter on at swim practice and understands the challenges parents face as they make decisions about how their children will spend their time.
“I started swimming as a kid and it gave me skills I’ve used throughout my life,” said Torres. “Now I have an 8-year-old daughter who is on a swim team and loves it. I see her benefiting from the same things I did, and I want other moms to know how much fun it can be and what a lifelong gift it is for our kids.”
To address the common misconceptions and bridge the perception gap, SwimToday includes a creative advertising campaign by Minneapolis ad agency Colle+McVoy highlighting the fun aspects of swimming and, with playful imagery and taglines, conveys the benefits of swimming compared to other sports. The campaign also features public service announcements (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cenm9-1fsCc) that will run nationally on television and online beginning May 6, as well as a new website, www.SwimToday.org, which provides online resources for parents.
While touting the “fun” of swimming, SwimToday also provides online tools for parents to help locate swim clubs and local pools in their communities. Many parents commonly report lack of access to a nearby pool, while research shows that 82 percent of households actually have a pool within 10 minutes of their residences.
"As a company dedicated exclusively to aquatic sports, we are pleased to support this campaign to increase participation in the great sport of swimming. For 40 years we have been fans, supporters and leaders in this industry, and we remain committed to helping our partners at USA Swimming grow the sport, and encourage more children to enjoy the water."
-Tim McCool, General Manager of Arena North America.
“SwimToday was founded in 2012 upon USA Swimming and Speedo USA’s shared mission to inspire more people to ‘dive in’ and swim. As the very proud first partner of SwimToday – and a supporter of swimming at all levels, from elite to grassroots, to fitness and active recreation – we are excited about how the campaign has grown and look forward working with USA Swimming and our fellow industry leaders to promote the benefits of swimming and bring more kids into the sport 2014.”
-Jim Gerson, Speedo USA President
"Many youths choose their sport based on what their friends are involved with or what is highlighted in the media. TYR is proud to partner with fellow industry leaders in support of the SwimToday campaign, which aims to make swimming a more mainstream option and grow the sport on a global scale."
-Matt DiLorenzo, Chief Executive Officer of TYR Sport.
"Everything that supports our USA-Swimming Clubs in getting young people an opportunity to benefit from the great sport of swimming is a worthwhile endeavor. The "Funnest Sport" is certainly an accurate description of who we all collectively are!”
-John Leonard, Executive Director of the American Swimming Coaches Association
"The SwimToday campaign is such a great representation of what kids across the country get from the sport - fun - and all the campaign elements really bring that to life in a great way. We are proud to be part of this ground-breaking industry initiative."
-Anita Sayed, Senior VP Playcore and Group Manager of Aquatics
"Swimming improves children’s lives and begins a legacy that passes to future generations. We are thrilled that SwimToday is opening the door to life-long healthy activity and recognizing swim schools that have Certified Pool/Spa Operators who keep the pool cleaner and safer.”
-Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D, CEO of non-profit National Swimming Pool Foundation
"There is no better investment within the sport of swimming than a campaign to get kids to just swim for the fun of it. This is what I like the best about SwimToday. It's the 'funnest' sport!"
-Brent Rutemiller, CEO and Publisher of Swimming World magazine.
"While providing simple-to-use technology for swim teams is TeamUnify’s business, at the core we are about getting families involved in the sport and this campaign is a win for all of us. We are honored to be chosen as the technology partner to power the SwimToday initiative and support this first-of-its kind initiative in our industry and help empower people to find a team in their area.”
-Tom Fristoe, CEO of TeamUnify
“The sport of swimming is about family. This is a great representation of what family means to organizations when our own unique organizational missions come together and align with the shared goal of getting more people into the sport. We hope to see this effort continue for decades to come.”
-Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director.
"Many Masters swimmers were age group swimmers so it is with great interest that we encourage the next generation of youth to experience the fun and joy of swimming.”
-Rob Butcher, U.S. Masters Swimming Executive Director
For more information about the campaign and to access the online resources, please visit: SwimToday.org.