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Swimmers are Smarter

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According to a study from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research in Australia, The Kids Alive Swim Program, and Swim Australia, swimmers are smarter than other people. Well, not exactly... the study concluded that young swimmers, those that learned to swim at an early age (think pre-school swim lessons), were ahead of their peers in certain developmental milestones.

The researchers study looked at "early-years" swimming. They surveyed the parents of 7,000 children (all under age five years old). The children lived in either Australia, New Zealand, or the USA. The research team also did in-depth testing of 180 children, ages three, four, and five years old.

The results of the study? Young swimmers, those that "participate in early-years swimming achieve a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population."

The researchers state that many of these acquired skills are the kind that will help the swimmers as they move into more formal school environments, like preschool and elementary school. These skills included oral expression, general literacy, working with numbers, other math-related skills, and some visual-motor skills, like:

  • Coloring
  • Drawing lines
  • Drawing shapes
  • Cutting paper
"Many of these skills are highly valuable in other learning environments and will be of considerable benefit for young children as they transition into pre-schools and school."

The study also compared results among socio-economic groups, and found:

  • The two high socio-economic swim groups had better study results than the two low socio-economic swim groups.
  • All four socio-economic swim groups scored higher than the normal population.
So what does this all mean? Are swimmers smarter than other people? Are they smarter than other athletes? Certainly not on a one on one comparison! I am certain I can find a randomly chosen non-swimmer that is smarter than a randomly chosen swimmer. But what about the big picture? I like the results, but I would, I am a swim coach. The study did not look at young sport athletes in other sports, like basketball players, soccer players, or hockey players, so there is no way to compare young swimmers to other groups of young athletes in other sports from this study.

As long as I have been around swimming, I have heard that swimmers are smarter than other students. When I was as swimmer, I believed that 100%. I think that, in itself, shows that the statement is not entirely correct! Not all of the swimmers I knew where the top students in their classes, although many of us were, indeed, good students. My observations are that many of "us swimmers" are forced to manage our time better or get out of the sport. We have to learn how to fit all the pieces of life together or we get overwhelmed. Maybe this time management concept, and the success of those that master it, helps to feed the idea that swimmers are smarter

I interpret them as swimming, for youngsters, does more for them than just start them on the path of a life-long, healthy sport. It helps them to develop skills that can be used in other avenues of life, outside of the swimming pool. It can help them succeed in the educational world. For most swimmers, that side of it is a going to lead to a better life, if you believe that educational success can help lead to overall life success. I choose to believe that swimming can help someone's mental, physical, and emotional health. Swimming is good for you in many, many ways.

Swim on!

SOURCE: "Swimming kids are smarter" from Griffith University, http://poc-app.griffith.edu.au/news/2012/11/15/swimming-kids-are-smarter/

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