Top UK Schools for Swimming

Which UK independent schools offer the very best swim training programmes, pathways and pools, alongside a well-rounded education? WhichSchoolAdvisor reveals all…
Top UK Schools for Swimming
By Carli Allan
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UK independent schools could be shaping the swim stars of the future. Schools across the UK are raising their game with world-class facilities, professional coaches and elite training programmes to setting student-athletes on the path to being a pro. 

As you’d expect, most independent schools have a swim programme on the curriculum, and swimming lessons are offered year-round at most campuses with some students learning water safety and swimming confidence from as young as two years old.

As well as hiring trained PE teachers, schools are bringing in professional, certified coaches with international experience to deliver high-level competitive training, and schools including Millfield and Plymouth College offer a high-performance programme for students pursuing a goal in professional and competitive swimming. 

Another ingredient in the recipe for a great sporting education is a well-equipped campus – and UK schools have some truly outstanding sports facilities. Walk through many school gates here and you’ll find outdoor Olympic-sized pools and CrossFit training rooms and gyms for land based training.

Many schools offer students the chance to represent their school at both a local and regional level, racing against students from other independent and state schools in county and inter-school galas. The UK’s best young swimmers compete in the many galas organised by ESSA (English Schools Swimming Association), with schools including Millfield, Sevenoaks and Mount Kelly consistently taking home the top trophies.

If you’re looking for a UK school where your child can follow a dedicated swim programme wrapped around their academic studies, there are five key schools to consider first. WhichSchoolAdvisor rounds up the top schools in the country for swimming below.


When it comes to sport, Millfield is almost untouchable; it was the most represented school at the London 2012 Olympics and it had 24 students competing at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where it won 14 medals during the competition. This is the school where students train for Olympic Gold, are coached by former Olympians, and have the use of world-class indoor and outdoor facilities on campus. 

Students here are offered individual sporting programmes instead of joining timetabled PE lessons, and its unrivalled A-Z offering of sport includes swimming. There are six full time swim coaches, led by nine-time British National Champion Euan Gale. 

Students are selected for Competitive and Pathway squads and supported by the Student Athlete Support programme, which provides psychology, physiotherapy, nutrition advice, athletic development and performance analysis. And swim camps are also held during school holidays; most recently, Team GB Olympian Jazz Carlin ran a camp for students aged 10 to 17 years.

The prep school's sports facilities include a 25m swimming pool, and the senior school has an Olympic-sized eight-lane swimming pool complete with competition diving blocks, anti-wave lane ropes, and an electronic timing system.

Students can board from Year 3 upwards; it makes sense for students in the swim programme to board here and have all the facilities they need on their doorstep. Surely it’s easier to roll out of bed on campus to make it for 5.45am training in the pool?

It should come as no surprise that fees at Millfield are certainly not the cheapest, though. Annual day fees are £28,530 for Years 9 - 13; tuition fees for boarding students are £43,830. The school does give away several million a year in scholarships and bursaries, though, including sports scholarships each year for entry into Years 6, 7, and 8, 9 and lower sixth.

Read our full review of Millfield.

Mount Kelly

This all-through, co-ed West Devon school has one of the UK’s strongest student swim programmes, an enviable reputation for its outdoor education programme, and a track record of helping students of all abilities to thrive and achieve high results.

There are many opportunities to explore all aspects of the arts and sport at Mount Kelly – it has the facilities, the specialist teachers, and the time within a seven-day boarding programme to do this. Where the school really excels, though, is in both swimming and singing.

Mount Kelly is very well known for its world-class coaching facility for swimming and its elite training programme for swimmers aged eight to 18 years. There are eight full-time swim coaches training seven swim squads for 20-plus hours a week. The school’s swim programme is very well-established, having been founded in 1978. Since then it has produced more than 100 international swimmers, 36 of whom have competed at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, winning a total of eight Olympic and 16 Commonwealth medals. 

With alumni who have competed at the last five Olympic and Paralympic games, and as one of only two independent schools in the UK with a 50m pool with Olympic starting blocks and underwater 5m sprint markings (as well as a 25m indoor swimming pool), the school rivals Millfield when it comes to competitive swimming.

Students can board from Year 3, and approximately 50% of students are boarders; there are weekly and full boarding options, too. Annual day fees are £19,050-19,200 for Years 9-13; tuition fees for boarding students are £33,750-33,900. The school offers scholarships and bursaries for “swimmers with proven national success and international ambitions”.

Read our full review of Mount Kelly.


Sevenoaks School is widely recognised as an international independent school in England by attendance, syllabus and outlook. Students come from more than 40 countries, the international GCSE is used as its standard curriculum, and it was the first leading independent to adopt the International Baccalaureate in 1978. 

Sevenoaks also stands out as one of the top schools for swimming in the UK. It offers international-standard training and an elite performance pathway in swimming to help students achieve on a world stage, has a state of the art Aquatics Centre, and offers scholarships in swimming.

Swimming is taught in Years 7 to 9, and the school’s most talented swimmers are selected for the squad and have five training sessions per week. The school has a full-time senior swimming coach and there’s a 25-metre swimming in the school’s Sennocke sports centre.

Sevenoaks competes at junior, intermediate and senior level and several students are part of both Kent County and national academies. 

Annual day fees are £26,721- 30,348 for Years 9 - 13; tuition fees for boarding students are £42,921-46,566. The school offers sport scholarships to students joining at 11+, 13+ and 16+, and means-tested bursaries worth up to 110%  of day fees.

Read our full review of Sevenoaks.

Whitgift School

Whitgift is a highly selective day and boarding all-boys school for around 1,500 student, with the choice of IB, A Levels and BTECs at Sixth Form, a large bursary programme, and a broad curriculum that focuses on developing independent thinking. It’s also nationally recognised as a top school for sport (it was ranked number one in School Sport Magazine’s Top 100 Schools).

Students train at the school’s 25m, eight-lane swimming pool with a variable-depth and in the 50m pool at Crystal Palace. They have huge success at local, regional and international events (they brought home 24 Gold medals, 20 Silver medals, and 14 Bronze medals in the 2022 World School Swim Championships).

Annual day fees are £22,269 for Years 9 - 13; tuition fees for boarding students are £43,629. The school offers sport scholarships to students with a reduction of up to 50% of the school fees.

The school has one of the biggest educational bursary systems in the UK. Around a quarter of boys at Whitgift are on “significant means-tested bursaries”, and just under 50% are receiving some financial aid. The school is committed to doubling this figure over the next decade.

Read our full review of Whitgift School.

Plymouth College

This co-ed day school in Devon has a reputation for being one of the best UK schools for swimming, and attracts swimmers from around 30 countries worldwide.

The school has partnered with Plymouth Leander swimming club to provide the PL performance swimming programme for day and boarding students; there are currently 85 swimmers in 14 squads and the majority are boarders at the school. PL is one of the top swimming clubs in the country and has an impressive track record at all levels of competition from junior meets through to the Olympics. 

Swimmers train in the school’s own five-lane 25m pool, as well as a 10-lane 50m and six-lane 25m pools at Plymouth Life Centre, and the four-lane 25m pool at the Leisure Centre in Plympton. Students commit to an intense schedule of 30 hours of high-performance swimming a week over 12 sessions, held before, during and straight after school; there’s also a further 90 hours of swimming time and land work in the gym.

There are seven full time swim coaches led by Robin Armayan (a European Gold medal coach) and supported by a team of nutritionists, chiropractors, physios and psychologists.

Annual day fees are £17,040-17.715 for Years 9 - 13; tuition fees for boarding students are £32,610-34,200. The school offers sport scholarships to students valued between 5% to 10% of school fees and means-tested bursaries offering up to a 50% reduction of fees.

Read our full review of Plymouth College.


Launched in 2019, Repton’s swim programme is fully affiliated by Swim England. Repton Swimming is a school and community club where any swimmer can apply to trial, so it’s not exclusively for Repton students. 

The school has a talented coaching team led by Ash Morris, who previously headed up Hamilton Aquatics Swimming Academy in Dubai.

Students have training sessions in the school’s six-lane, 25m pool with racing blocks, located in Repton’s recently developed Sports Centre; there’s also a six-lane 25m pool in the prep school. Squad swimmers have training sessions up to seven days a week, as well as specialist strength and conditioning at least twice per week in the school’s gym.

Annual day fees are £30,000 for Years 9 - 13; tuition fees for boarding students are £40,455. The school offers sport scholarships to students with up to 20% remission of the Repton fees as well as a small fund for means-tested bursaries.

Read our review of Repton

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