According to a survey commissioned by Swimways, a manufacturer of pool and outdoor recreational products in Virginia Beach, Va., more than four out of five parents understand that learning to swim by age 5 increases a child’s self-confidence. However, 88 per cent of parents were unaware that learning to swim before age 5 can also aid in the development of mathematical skills. The survey also revealed only 14 per cent of parents understand swimming can help develop oral expression, and less than half of those surveyed understood swimming can boost a child’s social skills.
Elizabeth Beisel, a two-time Olympic medalist and USA Swimming Foundation ambassador, will serve as the spokesperson on Swimways National Learn to Swim Day, which will be held May 19.
“The Swimways survey results demonstrate parents’ understanding of the physical benefits of swimming, but many are unaware of the additional mental and psychological advantages of learning to swim at an early age,” said Beisel.
A four-year study by the Griffith Institute for Educational Research found children who were taught to swim by age 5 had statistically higher IQs because of their early sensory/motor stimulation in the water. Additionally, the study showed these children were more advanced in their cognitive and physical development than their non-swimming peers.
As to when children should be introduced to swimming, parents overwhelmingly agree (82 per cent) that children should learn to swim by at least age 5. However, mothers and fathers do not see eye-to-eye about when their little ones should experience their first swimming lesson. Mothers are far more comfortable with children learning to swim before they turn one (28 per cent) versus 14 per cent of fathers.
“It is most important for parents to involve their children in swimming at an early age,” says Swimways vice-president of marketing, Monica Jones. “Not only will it be beneficial to their overall development, but it will inspire a lifetime of discovery and love of the water.”
The Swimways survey was conducted between April 3 and 6 by Wakefield Research among 1000 nationally representative U.S. parents with children under 18 living in the home.