Top 7 Benefits of Year-Round Swimming (Scientifically Speaking):
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 (which may mean less, um, redirecting for you, mom!) and had more self-esteem, which made them more comfortable in social situations. That’s something to celebrate!
2. Improved development of motor skills
Your little almost-walker cautiously pulls along on the couch, holding on to the table and anything else in his or her path — while you follow along, holding your arms out to prevent any bumps and bruises. Sound familiar? Well, 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. So, maybe your little one starts swim classes and zooms around on land! That way, you can take a literal step back (Hello, childproofing!). JMSS offers classes for children ages 3 months and older!
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
We all want our kids to be the best and brightest, of course. We also want them to have FUN while they’re learning. What a golden experience: Swimming does that! 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. Take that, homework! (OK, they’ll still have to do their homework, but maybe swimming will make it easier?!)
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. Hmm. Bigger muscles, bigger brain? Makes sense to us!
6. Stronger social skills
Want your little one to be independent (or maybe not have to say, “Mom? Mom! MOM!” every two minutes?!)? 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 rates. But, YOU can help change that: Having your child participate in swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for kids in that age range! That’s according to a study by Ruth Brenner and her colleagues, from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2009.