Swim United is Speedo’s latest campaign aiming to tackle the inequalities faced by minority communities when it comes to learning how to swim. 

In the UK, only 42 per cent of schoolchildren in the most deprived areas are able to swim, compared to 86 per cent in the least deprived areas, according to research from Black Swimming Association and Sport England. Furthermore, the release from Speedo tell us that “532,000 children from ethnically-diverse communities have missed out on swimming lessons due to the pandemic”. 

The campaign consists of three films created by youth culture and purpose agency Livity and directed by Jess Kohl, each of which celebrates the joy of swimming as experienced by three real families who are underrepresented in the swimming community.

What really stands out with this campaign isn’t just the diverse and inclusive cast but the nuanced and therefore refreshing way in which their stories are told. 

Faced with navigating this complex territory, Livity emphasises the importance of telling more than one marginalised story through the three narratives. The final series captured the experiences of Remi, a mother of Caribbean-descent who reflects on the uniqueness of a childhood spent swimming at Brixton’s leisure centre, Niran, a father whose Keralan ancestry didn’t prioritise swimming, sharing in his daughter’s joy of the water every Saturday morning, and Cathy, a single-mother to two young biracial children, all three of whom were born with dwarfism, who is teaching her two daughters the joys of the pool.  

The videography and use of storytellings feels refreshingly un-commercial for such a household brand name. The narrators get to the heart of the story straight away, enabling the viewer to understand their experience and its depth in the short space of a minute. Elements such as culture, financial upbringing and emotional bonding between parent and child are mentioned from the get go, showcasing the protagonists’ humanity and vulnerability. This humanity helps paint swimming as a collective, peaceful as well as personal experience that enables humans of all backgrounds to connect. 

Visually, Jess opted to keep cinematography “clean and graphic” using London’s community pool spaces and to keep the work grounded in a “naturalistic” world.

Furthermore, the insights within the films will help power the tangible action being taken by Speedo in schools and leisure centres. Through the Swim United campaign, the brand will be engaging 35 schools across London, reigniting children’s interest in swimming through activity packs and providing intensive two-week swimming courses for 1,200 students. Swim United also comprises an identity created in house at Livity and a zine made for school children, illustrated by Raj Dhunna.

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