Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

First Advisor

Dr Betty Rose


Understanding the participation motives of youth athletes is vital if their needs are to be met and their sport involvement enhanced. The purpose of this study was to examine the participation motives of a squad of competitive and non-competitive, youth-age, male and female swimmers. A qualitative interview technique was employed to identify the participation motives of 12 youth-age swimmers. The interview schedule was based on theories describing participation motivation, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Data was deductively analysed, with statements classified into the motivation categories described by Passer (1981). Consistent with previous studies on participation motives in youth sport, the swimmers cited multiple reasons for participation. Fitness was revealed to be the most important motive across the sample. Competitive swimmers were more competitively oriented than their non-competitive counterparts, while non-competitive swimmers emphasised improving strokes and excitement motives. Being in the water was an important motive identified by all non-competitive swimmers, indicating that they participate, in part, for the intrinsic joy being in the water brings. The motives cited by competitive swimmers suggest a more extrinsic motivational orientation, while the non-competitive swimmers are more intrinsically motivated. Male and female swimmers identified similar motives for participation. However, female swimmers identified stronger affiliation motives than male swimmers, who were more competitively oriented. Non-competitive male swimmers were notably more competitively and extrinsically oriented than their female counterparts. It is important that young swimmers' reasons for participating, as well as the differences between competitive and non-competitive, and male and female swimmers, be identified, so that the needs of all youth-age swimmers can be realised and met.