Swimming isn’t just another box on the checklist of activities your child should do for safety, but it is totally unique in the fact that it offers many “scientifically proven” benefits outside of the aquatic world. In fact, swimming is considered to be one of the best forms of sport your child can do.
For those with young children, thinking about their longevity may not be high on your list of priorities, but researchers from the University of South Carolina found that regular swimmers lived considerably longer than all other sports, especially when it was continued into later life.
For regular swimmers, this low-impact sport has also been shown to increase flexibility, improve circulation, and build a stronger and healthier heart, with many now considering it to be a fountain of youth.
Why is swimming good for you?
The modern world is rife with growing obesity rates in young children. Swimming not only helps with weight control, but it also helps to create a trimmed and toned body, making water your child’s best friend.
Swimming superstars, Michael Phelps and Emily Seebohm are just two examples of the many toned bodies in the swimming world, because water, being 12 times denser than air, helps tone our muscles more effectively than land-based exercises.
Whilst swimming can lead to a longer life, it can also improve educational development. An Australian study indicated that children under five years of age, who had weekly swimming lessons, had better language development, literacy and numeracy skills and were more prepared for school, than their non-swimming counterparts, regardless of socio-economic background.
Professor Robyn Jorgensen, lead researcher added: “It does appear that children who participate in swimming are achieving a range of milestones earlier than normal populations.”
In addition, the study found that these children also scored better on measures of understanding and complying with directions. A skill that keeps parents happy!
But it doesn’t stop there, swimming is great for character-building and learning mindset skills that can be applied every day and well into the future, leading to a splash-free life.
If your child is easily stressed or lurching from one crisis to the next, swimming is a sport which increases endorphins and serotonin levels, consequently leading to improved feelings of well-being.
But swimming goes one step further. With its constant rhythmic action and soothing water sounds, it also aids relaxation, regardless of the amount of effort extended.
Like yoga, it has been found to have strong “relaxation responses” and can help relieve stress and tension, which has a growing prevalence in today’s younger society.
The best gifts to stay active would include arm floaties or life jackets for infants and preschoolers, rollerblades, bicycles or skateboards for children and teens which would enable them to get some fresh air!
One of the drawcards of swimming is the opportunity for children to learn about winning, losing and recovering from failure in a sociably acceptable way.
The long journey to make it to the Olympics in swimming teaches more than just resilience, but also the need for a passion to drive perseverance, continuous learning and hard work; these are just some of the characteristics we want in our leaders of tomorrow.
Competitive swimming is a whole other ball game, and some of the benefits include:
- Developing discipline (i.e. waking at 5a.m. or earlier each morning)
- Learning to take care of one’s body like knowing how and what to eat to fuel themselves
- Learning to deal with disappointment, particularly when they fail to achieve a place that they wanted, and being able to pick themselves up and work even harder
- Learning to make and accomplish goals
- Having the opportunity to develop lifelong friendships.
It is through these opportunities that children develop attributes that serve them throughout their lives and gives them the opportunity to bless the lives of others. What a great investment!
As we inch closer to the finishing line. . .
When we look at the swimmers standing on the blocks at the upcoming Olympics, think about all those skills and the role models they had to get them there.
Many people aren’t aware but when it comes to learning appropriate character-building traits and skills, those role models are “local.”
They are the people with whom we interact and whom we are connected to on a daily basis.
Importantly, like any sport, if your child is to improve in any of these developmental areas, the environment, the teachers/coaches and the way the skills are taught must be of consistently high quality!
“I love to see everyone perform at their best.”
For over 30 years, Joanne Love’s coaching methods have influenced Australia’s leading athletes, coaches and teams. Joanne represented Australia in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics as a swim coach. She has also coached a number of Olympic medallists and world-record holders. Joanne is a trained psychologist and Leadership Coach. Her unique outlook draws upon years of educational knowledge, her ability to create successful outcomes, and her psychological training, which is now helping parents, coaches and athletes to maximise their performances. For more Starting Young articles, click here.