Study: Possible Link Between Early Age Swimming and Intelligence

A recent study done over a three year span shows that children who learn to swim at an early age are more coordinated and score higher on aptitude tests.

The Australian study showed that children who take part in swimming lessons achieve mental and physical milestones far sooner than non-swimmers. The study was also able to validate the time honored notion that young swimmers tend to grow into confident and expressive adults.

The Study

Researchers at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, were able to research almost 7,000 children under the age of 5, from all around the world, learning to swim. The sample size was used to determine when children achieve certain major physical, cognitive and emotional milestones.

The information was recorded and then compared to generally accepted developmental indicators for children, such as counting, walking and talking. The researchers were very surprised by the results of the initial survey. To validate the results of the study, the researchers put 200 of the sample children through a series of cognitive tests.

The study was able to show that learning how to swimming at an early age increases intelligence, but swimming at an early age helps children achieve developmental milestones earlier. Child swimmers were able to reach physical feats faster than non-swimmers.

The test showed that children that swim are months ahead of non-swimmers when it comes to milestones such as counting, reading and writing. In some cases, the study showed that swimming children are intellectually years ahead of their non-swimming counterparts.     

Breakdown of Sample Results

  • One test group, average age of 3, was more than 15 months ahead of non-swimmers with the ability to follow directions.

  • Swimming children around the age of 4, were 7 months ahead of non-swimmers with the task of grasping objects.

  • Kids over the age of 4 with swimming experience were 10 months in language, 11 months in oral expression and almost 7 months in math ahead of non-swimmers.

  • Swimmers, around the age of 3, showed a drop in spelling and skills with catching, throwing and kicking balls.

The lead researcher, Robyn Jorgensen, believes that swim classes are simulating scenarios for children to focus on details and instructions. The visual cues and music that is played during the lessons helps the children transition to real life situations. 

65% of the American population can't swim. Swim lessons are a great way to introduce children to swimming and water safety. When learning how to swim, remember that proper water safety saves lives.