Descriptive epidemiology and correlates of children's swimming competence

King Chung Derwin CHAN, Alfred Sing Yeung LEE, Kyra HAMILTON

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the swimming competence of primary school children, and how it was related to swimming activity, non-fatal aquatic events, and demographic factors. Primary school students (N = 4959; female = 2705, male = 2241; age range = 5 to 14 years) across 28 schools in the 15 districts of Hong Kong completed the Swimming Competence Questionnaire, and questions about their swimming experience, non-fatal aquatic events, and demographic variables. Descriptive statistics showed that over 60% of children could swim more than 5m, but less than 50% could swim over 25m. Over 50% of children were able to perform some basic swimming skills (e.g., holding breath underwater, floating, poolside/kickboard kicking, and treading water). Swimming competence was positively predicted by the demographic factors (i.e., age, sex, family income, and parents' highest education level), swimming experience, learning experience, and swimming location. Treading water was the only factor of swimming competence that established asignificant negative association with non-fatal aquatic events. Current results can be used to target key groups to improve children's swimming competence and reduce non-fatal aquatic events; children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and with less swimming experience should be encouraged to participate in more formal learn to swim lessons. Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2253-2263
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number19
Early online dateJun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Chan, D. K. C., Lee, A. S. Y., & Hamilton, K. (2020). Descriptive epidemiology and correlates of children's swimming competence. Journal of Sports Sciences, 38(19), 2253-2263. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1776947


  • Swimming ability
  • Swim lesson
  • Learn-to-swim
  • Sport safety
  • Drowning prevention


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