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Number of pools in decline, but revenues from swimming lessons surge

The number of public pools in the UK fell between 2022 and 2023 (Image: Pexels)

The number of public-use swimming pools in the UK continues to fall, according to the State of the UK Swimming Industry Report 2023, compiled by market intelligence expert Leisure DB.

The report also shows, however, that revenue streams at publicly-owned pools have been buoyed by surging demand for swimming lessons and adults wanting to swim – with the average adult pay-per-swim fee exceeding £5 for the first time.

David Minton, Leisure DB founder and industry analyst, said: “The continued downward trend in pool stock is sadly to be expected as the long-term impact of COVID continues to make itself felt, compounded by the very significant repercussions of persistently high energy costs.

“Neither has government support been forthcoming at the time of writing this report; the application process for the funding announced in March is only just happening.

“With this in mind, what’s surprising in our 2023 figures is that we haven’t seen a more significant decrease in pool numbers: there’s been less of an overall reduction in pool stock over the past 12 months than in the year directly following COVID.

“However, we are likely yet to see the full and final impact of COVID, and high energy costs will undoubtably cause more casualties; it’s important to note that our figures include pools temporarily closed but slated to re-open. The coming 12 months will be critical as big decisions are made on the future of pools across the UK.”

The State of the UK Swimming Industry Report 2023,is due for release at the end of July, but SportsNation has been given an exclusive sight of the figures in it. The report includes a full breakdown of pool numbers and regional coverage, openings and closures, public and private sector analysis and expert commentary on the trends.

One of the emerging trends identified by the report is a “huge opportunity to further optimise pool capacities and revenues”, with many operators reconfiguring pools and timetables to accommodate more learn-to-swim.

“Demand for lessons is surging, with a huge backlog of kids who couldn’t learn during COVID,” the report states.

To pre-order your copy of the report, visit: Readers of SportsNation can benefit from a 20 per cent discount using promo code EARLYSWIM20 (valid until 31 July 2023).

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