We are continuing looking back at some of the inspirational sports stories which were celebrated at the 2023 Irish Sports Industry Awards. The coveted NGB of the Year Award 2023 was won by Swim Ireland.

Swim Ireland was founded in 1998 and inherited a rich history of swimming in Ireland which stretched back 105 years. In 2003, the National Aquatic Centre “one of the world’s largest indoor water centres” was opened and has served as a world class base to take Swim Ireland to staggering new heights. Swim Ireland is recognised by World Aquatics and European Aquatics.

In 2022, Swim Ireland had a transformational year. It launched a new strategy 2022 – 2026, which continues to support high performance and competitive aquatics. But crucially, for the first time in the 125 year history of swimming in Ireland, it has prioritised developing the skill of swimming and placed a particular focus on expanding its accessibility regardless of age, ability, background or where people are based on the island of Ireland. Swim Ireland are working with local authorities to successfully implement this strategy. 

Swim Ireland’s Me and the Water community is a tribe of people with a deep connection to water, ‘We are united in our love of the water’. It’s aim as a community is to share that love, grow new friendships, and deepen your relationship with water.


Embracing Innovation: In May 2022, Swim Ireland opened Ireland’s first ever Pop – Up Pool, capturing the imagination of swimmers. Swim Ireland have since opened a second Pop – Up Pool and estimated that 14,000 Swimmers who would otherwise not have access to a pool have benefited from the vital service in four locations. Sarah Keane, Swim Ireland Chief Executive told RTÉ News; “The idea is that we can bring it, and bring swimming to areas where there’s no facility or there is a facility but maybe there’s no access to pool time for Swimming lessons.” Swim Ireland embraced innovation in sport to come up with the concept of a mobile swimming pool. They have worked alongside Local Sports Partnerships to roll out the project. 

In this short feature we hear from Sligo Sports Partnership how the pop-up pool has impacted members of the local community and breaking down barriers to inclusion.

Swim Ireland worked with Sanctuary Runners to develop the Swimmers Swimmers initiative, working closely with 5 Local Sports Partnerships around the coast. Swim Ireland Coach Dee explains her passion behind the project in this short video.

In 2004, Sarah Keane was appointed as Swim Ireland’s first Chief Executive. During Keane’s tenure, Swim Ireland has increased its staff from two employees to 39, with an annual revenue in excess of €4 million. Reflecting on Swim Ireland’s recognition as 2023 National Governing Body of the Year, Keane said;

“Swim Ireland were delighted to win the NGB of the Year Award at the 2023 Sport Industry Awards. The external verification from within the sporting community is very empowering. 

“The award, for us, recognised the hard work, passion, and dedication shown by our volunteers, teachers/coaches, staff and community who dedicate their time to the aquatics and we were honoured to receive it on their behalf.”

The standard of nominations last year was incredibly high and it is important for the Federation to continue to recognise the extraordinarily valuable work being undertaken by the other shortlisted NGB’s, Athletics Ireland, Vision Sports Ireland, Basketball Ireland and Canoeing Ireland.

The 7th Irish Sport Industry Awards will take place in the College Green Hotel Dublin, on Tuesday May 28th, where Minister for Finance Michael McGrath TD, will deliver the keynote address.

If you would like to find more information about how the Federation of Irish Sport works with National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships click here