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Dramatic drop in number of people swimming

245,000 fewer people took part in swimming last year. Credit: PA

Despite being the country's most popular sport, swimming in England has seen a huge fall in participation numbers over the last year with 245,000 fewer people taking part.

Funding body Sport England says it is 'disappointed and concerned' at swimming's eight per cent drop which has significantly affected overall participation numbers in sport.

There's also been a drop off in participation across all sports. In the year ending October 2014, 125,100 fewer people did some kind of sport once a week for 30 minutes - bringing the overall number down from 15.7million to 15.6million.

Sports minister Helen Grant, said: "I am very concerned by the overall dip in participation over the last 12 months. Sports governing bodies have long argued that they can bring new people to their sport and funding should go via them but some are simply not delivering and it's not good enough."

Swimming remains the country's most popular sport with over 2.6million people taking part weekly despite the drop, which is certain to lead to a funding cut.

Snapshots: Sports photos of the day

Our selection of Friday's best photographs from the wide world of sport.

Russia's synchronised swimming team trains in Rio de Janeiro. Credit: Reuters
Rafael Nadal celebrates in style after defeating Dudi Sela of Israel in the Australian Open third round. Credit: Reuters
Man's best friend: A touching scene at the annual Sedivackuv dog sled race in the Czech Republic. Credit: Reuters
An Israeli competitor in the World Medieval Fighting Championship – yes, it exists – suits up. Credit: Reuters

Swimming legend Michael Phelps charged with driving offences

Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps has said he is "deeply sorry" after he was charged for driving under the influence and two other offences.

The US swimmer was clocked driving a white 2014 Land Rover at almost twice the speed limit and crossing lanes illegally in a tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland.

He later took to Twitter to apologise for his actions:

Phelps is the most successful Olympic athlete of all time, amassing a total of 22 medals as well as several world records.

Swim champion expelled from games for stealing

Japan has expelled one of its top swimmers from the Asian Games after he was caught stealing a camera.

Naoya Tomita won gold medal in men's 200m breaststroke at the 2010 World Swimming Championships. Credit: Reuters

Naoya Tomita, 25, the 200-metre breaststroke gold medallist from the 2010 games, could face criminal charges over the theft of the camera, owned by a South Korean media organisation, team bosses said.

Surveillance cameras at the games in Incheon, South Korea, captured Tomita putting the camera in his bag after watching his team-mates compete.

Officials said he admitted taking the camera.


One fifth of parents 'do not let child swim in sea'

One in five parents have banned their child from swimming in the sea because they worry about their safety, a poll has found.

Swimming in open water presents a different set of challenges than swimming in a 25m pool. Credit: PA

The study by Amatuer Swimming Association found less than a third of parents say they are completely happy to let their children swim in the sea.

One in five wont let their children into the waves at all because they feel its too dangerous.

Nearly a third of parents say that they will only let their children swim in the sea if they go with them.

Michael Phelps coming out of retirement

Phelps is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. Credit: Marcelo Regua/DPA

Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, is coming out of retirement amid speculation he will aim to compete at the 2016 Rio Games.

USA Swimming said the 29-year-old will compete for the first time since London 2012 later this month at a meet in Mesa, Arizona.

Phelps, who has 22 Olympic medals including 18 gold, returned to training last autumn and has completed the six-month waiting period to be eligible for competition by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Adlington 'so relieved' after Olympic medals found

Swimming star Rebecca Adlington said she is "so relieved" after her Olympic medals were found following a break-in at her home.

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