One in five adults cannot swim, a study has found.
The study of 2,000 adults found almost 90 per cent agree it is important for children to learn to swim, despite 71 per cent of the adults admitted to swimming less often now than when they were a child.
Three in 10 adults said they had not been swimming in more than 10 years.
The study, commissioned by canned fish company John West, found that one in seven thought that swimming was too expensive.
John West’s Get Yourself Shipshape campaign aims to encourage people to make “little and often” changes towards healthy, active lifestyles.
Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who is supporting the Get Yourself Shipshape campaign, said: “It’s really surprising how many people in the country are unable to swim, even though they are aware of the many benefits of swimming.
“For many of us who were taught at a young age, it seems as if we’ve always had the ability – but it’s easy to forget swimming doesn’t come naturally to many people.
“Even though it’s widely recognised as a fantastic way to get in shape, learning to swim in later years can be really daunting.
“But getting in the water and persevering can see great results, not only in learning how to swim but also getting fit and healthy at the same time.”
Another 52 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, admitted to being confused about what constitutes a healthy diet.
Jon Burton, marketing director at John West Foods added: “When trying to work out a balanced lifestyle, most people know there are two main points to consider - how much exercise you do, and the diet you put into your body.
“However, research shows that people are still confused about how to live a healthy, active lifestyle – and swimming is a great place to start.
"Just like taking up swimming, enjoying fish as part of a nutritious, protein-rich diet could be another little step we can all take.”