Reposting my article from Labor Day weekend in case you missed it.
The Benefits of Swimming Year-Round
Even though summer is drawing to a close and school has started, it’s still important to practice swim safety year round. Children benefit from year-round swimming for a multitude of reasons. Here are just some of the ways year-round swim lessons can benefit your child:
1. Development of the whole child
Not only does swimming benefit children physically, but it also improves their development intellectually and emotionally. According to scientific studies at the German Sports College Cologne, kids who swim year-round fared better academically, particularly in problem-solving skills. The swimmers also displayed more self-discipline and had more self-esteem, which made them more comfortable in social situations. That’s something to celebrate!
2. Improved Development of Motor Skills
Studies conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology by Dr. Hermundur Sigmundsson and his colleagues concluded that the youngest swimmers showcased better balance and grasping techniques.
3. Enhanced brain development
Kids learn a lot through touch and the texture of different objects — which is known as tactile sensory development. Research by Dr. Ruth Rice determined that babies make “significant gains in neurological development, weight gain and mental development” from the tactile stimulation of the nerve pathways of the skin — and swimming in water (which has over 600 times the resistance of air) certainly covers that.
4. Advanced cognitive development
A four-year Early Years Swimming Research Project (with 45 swim schools in Australia, New Zealand and the United States) found that children younger than five who had swim lessons were more advanced in their cognitive and physical development. Plus, researchers in Melbourne found that kids in the study had higher IQs.
5. Increased memory and learning potential
It turns out that exercise helps a person’s memory, which helps a child’s learning potential — all because exercise increases the neurons in our hippocampus (an area of the brain associated with memory). Art Kramer, with the help of his colleagues at the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh, discovered that people who were more fit had a bigger hippocampus than those who weren’t as fit.
6. Stronger social skills
Swimming helps teach kids how to take turns, listen, share and cooperate. And Dr. Liselott Diem and her colleagues found that kids who had taken swim lessons from two months old to 4 years old could adapt to new social situations more easily because they had more confidence in social settings.
7. Reduced risk of drowning
It’s a scary fact, but the Centers for Disease Control states that children aged 1-4 have the highest drowning.However, having your child participate in swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for neuro-typical kids in the age range of 1-4. That’s according to a study by Ruth Brenner and her colleagues, from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2009.
An even more startling fact is that drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children with autism. According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90 percent of total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement in 2009 to 2011. It is highly advised by professionals to start swim lessons for water safety purposes for all children on the autism spectrum.
8. Skill Maintenance
It is important to remember swimming skills, just like skills needed for any other activity, can be lost over time. If a child goes the entire school year without swimming, they lose many of the skills they may have had the summer prior which can actually be quite discouraging. By enrolling your child in year-round swim lessons, you ensure that their skills continually improve and don’t need to be relearned each summer.