Autism Swim Provider of the Year

in at the deep end (Sunderland, UK) becomes Autism Swim Provider of the Year

Of over 1200 providers across 26 countries, Mark McNichol and the team at in at the deep end have taken out the title of Autism Swim Provider of the Year.

Children on the autism spectrum are 160 times more likely to drown than their peers. This hugely underreported statistic was the catalyst for Autism Swim being established in 2016. Autism Swim is the only certification body in the world specific to autism and aquatics and have become the international experts in inclusive aquatics for those who have specific learning needs. Amongst other services, they provide expert training, resources, and support to their providers around the world.; to ensure lessons are conducive to the needs, preferences and learning styles of every participant. Autism Swim announced the winner of Provider of the Year this week; an initiative that celebrates those who are prioritising inclusion, becoming disability advocates and encapsulating Autism Swim’s mission in their service delivery.

“Since founding IATDE in 2008 we have always aimed to be the open, accepting and accommodating swim school for everybody within the local community. Regardless of need or ability we strive to provide high quality affordable lessons available to everybody with the aim of making children safe within and around water. We see all too often the number of people who lose their lives to water each year and we want to make everybody as safe as we can. Over the years we realised that there was a huge gap in the market and children who were neurodiverse were missing out on lessons. Therefore in partnership with Autism Swim and support from the STA we started up skilling all of our teachers to enable us to become more inclusive and accessible to all.” Mark McNichol, IATDE Owner.

IATDE currently deliver lessons to nearly 700 people across the Tyne and Wear area and employ over 25 teachers and support staff and run nearly 70 classes a week. Classes range in ability from babies through to adult classes and both private one to one classes as well as group classes. They’re also planning to run from an additional venue in Seaham from January to accommodate more people.

All of IATDE’s Autism Swim Approved providers are qualified through STA UK, who are also long-standing partners of Autism Swim. STA UK’s Commercial Director Zoe Cooper believes the industry still has a long way to go in bridging the inclusive gap, however IATDE and Autism Swim are certainly making waves.

“We are proud of our partnership with Autism Swim, and the pathways we have created to help UK swim schools access their specialist training.  In at the Deep End, one of our affiliated swim schools, is a shining example of this success, and we congratulate Mark and his team for being named Autism Swim Provider of the Year – it’s an incredible achievement.”

STA UK, Autism Swim and IATDE are committed to and excited about the idea of ensuring inclusion is no longer seen as an optional offering of aquatic organisations, but rather, a non-negotiable. 


To arrange an interview, please contact the relevant person below;

Mark McNichol (IATDE) –

Zoe Cooper (STA UK) –

Erika Gleeson (Autism Swim) –

Did you know?