Swim Ireland - Women and the Water

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Swim Ireland Women in Sport Programme

Women and the Water

Women and The Water is Swim Ireland’s Women in Sport Strategy that encompasses all Women in Sport programmes currently running and planned for within the organisation.

What are the aims of Women and the Water?

Through this Women in Sport Strategy Swim Ireland are aiming to ensure gender parity across all areas of the aquatic disciplines from club to national level. Everybody has a relationship with the water, females across Ireland should have the opportunity to be involved at all levels, from participation to coaching, officiating to leadership.

The Women and the Water strategy outlines each programme and the individual aim. Areas include coaching, visibility and policies to ensure gender quotas on committees and boards. This strategy, which is in line with the Sport Ireland Policy on WIS and the Swim Ireland Strategy 2017-2021, is a roadmap to encouraging, engaging and developing females already involved in swimming, welcoming new participants into the sports and engaging with other sports outside of aquatic disciplines.

Swim Ireland has many strong females in their sports, and are keen to ensure that they are visible and get as many opportunities as possible to promote themselves and their sports.

Women and the Water is made up of many WIS programmes including: 

#WePlay Inspiring Girls in Sport Conference

This annual, one-day conference showcases Ireland's elite female athletes along with leading practitioners of sport. The day is aimed at athletes, coaches and parents involved in any sport at any level. A range of sports are represented on stage and in the audience for a day of inspiring talks and stimulating discussions from those who have impacted the world of sport. The theme of the conference is “Proud to be Me” focusing on getting the most out of your sport and being confident in your body. Previous years have included talks such as:

  • Balancing Life as an Athlete: athlete panel
  • In The Face of Adversity: athlete panel
  • The Un-Comfort Zone: athlete panel
  • Off The Pitch: Professionals working in sport
  • Nutrition: Sport Ireland Institute practitioners
  • Mental resilience: Psychologists

Many Irish female Olympic, Paralympic, World and European Champions have graced the #WePlay stage.

*Due to Covid 19, #WePlay 2020 will now take place online through a series of video releases across April and May. The #WePlay stage will be brought to your homes, where you'll hear from Ireland's elite athletes and sporting practitioners and have the opportunity to ask questions. Follow Swim Ireland for more updates on the #WePlay Conference.


Coaching & Mentoring Programme

Launched by Swim Ireland in 2018, funded by Sport Ireland, the aim of the programme is to address the lack of female coaches across Irish aquatics. Courses are offered to successful applicants at a discounted rate with the added benefit of personal mentoring to further coaching development post course completion. Since its launch, the programme has qualified 57 female coaches in Level 1 & 2 courses across Swimming, Water Polo and Diving, with further courses planned throughout 2020.

Swim for a Mile Challenge

This is a nationwide 12-week challenge encouraging people who can swim two lengths of a 25m pool to get back in the pool and complete a mile. The programme runs annually, attracting a high proportion of female participants (68%). SFAM started in 2014, with the support of Sport Ireland WIS Funding and now sees over 2000 participants taking part each year in the pool and open water.

Swimmin Women

This 8-week training programme takes beginners to 600 metres. The programme was piloted in 2019 with 140 women participating across 5 counties. Swim Ireland provide the training programme to Local Sports Partnerships (LSP’s), who deliver the programme in identified local pools.

At the end of the 8 weeks swimmers complete 600m in one of three ways (6x100m, 3x200m, 600m for time), upon which they are awarded with Swim Ireland “Swimmin’ Women” goodies.

The programme provides women with the opportunity to not only develop swimming skills but also form relationships with women in their community. The first series of Swimmin’ Women Programmes finished in the weeks before Christmas 2019, leading participants into the Swim for a Mile Challenge, acting as a steppingstone event and new goal! 

Swimming 50’s

This pilot programme will run across identified LSP’s in 2020. The programme replicates “Swimmin Women” however, “Swimmin 50’s” is targeted at women entering their menopausal years, empowering them through this transitional period, emphasising that change can be good and a new beginning. Physical activity such as swimming can help women cope with their menopausal symptoms. Training programmes and educational information will be provided to the participants.


Launched in 2019, with 50 young female swimmers currently participating out of three hubs located in Bangor, Dublin and Limerick, the programme is aimed at keeping young swimmers involved by developing a group of female athletes over a 5-year period with an ultimate target of qualifying a female 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

WIS Leadership Programme

This programme is aimed at females, aged 18+, working at all levels within the organisation and partnering NGB’s. We aim to afford participants an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to take on roles and become influencers at regional, national and international level. We are currently working with Boxing, Hockey and Triathlon to roll out a programme in 2020.