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Ask any young swimmer about the benefits of their chosen sport, and they’ll likely talk about stamina, strength, and overall physical fitness. But one benefit of swimming that’s seldom addressed is how it contributes to intellectual development. At Swimming Los Angeles Swim School, youngsters and parents alike learn all about the physical and intellectual benefits of children’s swimming lessons. In fact, the earlier kids start, the more intellectually inclined they’re bound to be as they grow.

Recent research has shown that young swimmers tend to reach developmental milestones earlier than their peers. In general, swimmers reap the most benefits in areas like emotional intelligence, physical development, language skills, and self-confidence. Let’s take a brief look at each of these areas:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Because swimming is a social sport, children who start swimming classes early develop the emotional and psychological awareness they need to work well in teams and be supportive of others.
  • Physical Development: Aside from physical fitness, swimming also supports fine motor skill development. This is especially true for infant and toddler swimmers, as they are trained to be ready to take action on their instructor’s count of three.
  • Language Development: Researchers have also found that kids who start swimming at a young age often have a better grasp of literacy, numeracy, and oral expression.
  • Self-Confidence: Many swim lessons focus on achievable goals and this contributes to overall self-confidence. This goal-oriented confidence is easily translatable to other areas like schoolwork and relationships.
  1. 1. Learn to swim yourself. Parents who don't swim or don't know how to swim often raise kids who can't swim. Make it a family activity. Kids do as we do, not as much as we say.
  2. 2. The Power of the Shower. Don’t mistake this for the bath! Shower your child often and make it fun. The more water on the hair and face, the better. The shower is the most underutilized swimming aid in the world. Parents just don't think to use it and it will work wonders for your child's swimming progress.
  3. 3. For children under three years old, group lessons are better than privates. Group lessons will do more for your child's intellectual and social development than privates. Not only do they cost less, but your child will have the benefit of more social and intellectual interaction. Children at this age learn through music and song, which is challenging to incorporate into private lessons.
  4. 4. Familiarize yourself with the Griffith study. Children who are swimming at an early age are reaching key
    learning milestones up to 15 months earlier than their non-swimming peers. You can see the videos and study results on our website at SwimmingLA.com. We have an entire page devoted to the Intellectual Benefits of Early Age Swimming.
  5. 5. Secondary Drowning (or Dry Drowning) is extremely rare. Dr. Larry Kagan of Westside Pediatrics: “That’s the problem with Dr. Google. People have access to so much information that they scare themselves. These things are actually so rare that it’s not even worth worrying about. The likelihood of this happening is super, super low. With that said, always consult a doctor after a near drowning event.” WebMD: “Dry drowning and secondary drowning are not common. Both probably amount to only 1%-2% of drownings.”
  6. 6. Saltwater pools do contain chlorine. Saltwater chlorination is a process that uses dissolved salt as a store for the chlorination system. The chlorinator uses electrolysis to break down the salt (NaCl). The resulting chemical reaction eventually produces hypochlorous acid (HCIO), and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which are the sanitizing agents already commonly used in swimming pools. As such, a saltwater pool is not actually chlorinefree; it simply utilizes a chlorine generator instead of direct addition of chlorine. Saltwater pools lack chloramines, referred to as combined chlorine. Chloramines are the irritants which give traditional pools the stigma of burning eyes and caustic smell.
  7. 7. There is no such thing as a watersafe child! No matter how confident you think your child is in the pool, they still need constant supervision at any age.

In this self-made video, Swimming LA Swim School President & Founder, Matt Harrigan, demonstrates how to shower an infant that cannot yet sit up on their own, using his son at 9 months old.

After meeting, greeting, and speaking to many parents over many years of giving and studying swim lessons, I wanted to write an article to help bring all the different notions and opinions closer together. I’ve come to realize that across all parents, there exist many definitions of “swimming.” Most parents believe “swimming” means freestyle (otherwise known as “front crawl”) or one of the other three competitive strokes such as butterfly, backstroke or breaststroke.

As a young competitive swimmer, my definition was once closely aligned with these parents. Now, as an adult and swim school owner, my definition of “swimming” has evolved significantly. Today, I believe “swimming” simply means being comfortable in and under any depth of water. So then what does “comfortable” mean? “Comfortable” is yet another word with varying definitions. In my opinion, “comfortable,” to the swimming community, should mean having the ability to truly enjoy being in water above head level, without flotation devices. Acquiring this comfort does not come easy, especially to adult students who were deprived swim lessons as children. It is important to understand that this “comfort” can be attained at any age, which is precisely the reason parents should be starting their kids as infants.

I’ve had parents ask me, despite seeing their one-year-old holding their breath and floating, “When will they start swimming?” The truth is, the brain of a child under three years old is not developmentally ready to begin working on competitive strokes. Your goal should be, simply, to have your child as “comfortable” underwater as possible before the age of three years old. The earlier you start them on a consistent routine of quality swim lessons, the safer and better off they will be in the long term. “Quality” lessons teach not only comfort and fundamentals in the water, but also that children should never enter the water without an invitation. A child learning to sit and wait patiently for their turn is just as critical as gaining comfort in the water.

The fundamentals (the three B’s), buoyancy, balance & breath control, must lay the foundation for the final step and ultimate goal, propulsion. A six-month-old who can hold their breath, float face-down with eyes open under the water while moving their arms and legs has tackled the fundamentals of swimming. This is not uncommon, however, parents must get their children started young. How young? At 4 weeks of age, infants are already comfortable being submerged in water and lying on their backs with their ears under the surface. This is a direct result of the body being submerged in amniotic fluid in the womb during pregnancy. At about 6 months of age, infants begin to lose these “underwater instincts.” Consequently, the best time to begin exposure to water is as soon as the umbilical cord falls off – as early as 4 weeks.

Survival and drowning prevention are of the utmost importance, especially in Los Angeles County where drowning remains the leading cause of accidental death among toddlers ages one to two. Besides these obvious reasons for your child to learn how to swim, consider the impact it will make on their adulthood! Over 70% of the earth is covered by water. There is an entire world awaiting them: snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, water skiing, rafting, etc. Don’t you want your child to have the foundation to enjoy these great activities? Start them early. Sadly, I’ve met too many adults who were deprived of swim lessons as children and have never stepped foot in a river, lake or ocean.

Consistency is key. The more routinely and frequently your child’s lessons occur, the faster they will learn the fundamentals. Give your child a little R&R – routine & repetition. The best swim school classes are based on a consistent routine with lots of repetition. Infant/toddlers and young children learn with routine, which is the reason why Sesame Street segments are placed in the same order in every episode. Child psychology methods have been examined and implemented to create these episodes and a great swim school should do the same.

In Los Angeles, swimming is not just fun in the summer time – it’s a year-round activity. If the weather is warm most of the year in Southern California, why do so many parents deprive their children of year round swim lessons? A child does not gain that much from a half-hour lesson once per week for three months out of the year. That only equates to 12 lessons and a total of six hours in the water per year. How much do you expect your child to learn in just six hours? A child should learn the fundamentals of swimming before they learn to walk. This protects them from their curiosity of pools and water when they do start walking. Learning to swim is a commitment. Like walking, it doesn’t happen in six hours. Be patient, make the commitment and go all the way!

Splashing around in the pool has never been more fun or educational than it is at Swimming Los Angeles Swim School. Science has proven that swimming isn’t just great for growing young healthy bodies; it’s also great for developing young minds.

Kids who participate in athletic activities like swimming classes from a young age tend to do better in school and have fewer behavioral and concentration problems. While the focus of most educational discourse is class sizes and test scores, the health of your physical body also strongly affects your mental capabilities.

Building a strong association between movement and fun is an essential part of nurturing well-rounded children who grow and thrive. In fact, according to cutting-edge scientists like Dr. Win Wenger, author of The Einstein Factor: A Proven New Method For Increasing Your Intelligence, regular swimming may actually increase your IQ by 10 points or more! His research shows that swimming underwater for just three weeks is enough to see a marked improvement in IQ, attention span, verbal ability, and cognitive reasoning.

With professional guidance and proper adult supervision, young children and babies can hold their breath and swim underwater for many seconds at a time. Fostering a love for the water and swimming starts as early as birth. Kids who are comfortable in the water at a young age are more likely to enjoy recreational swimming as adults, and more likely to reap all the social, physical and intellectual benefits that come with it!

So, how does it work? When people dive below the surface of the water and swim, they enact something called the marine diving response, or the mammalian diving response. Basically, when people force their bodies to stay underwater without breathing, the body responds and compensates by storing oxygen in different places than it normally would. For this reason, simply holding your breath while standing on solid ground will not have the same result as physically swimming underwater.

When oxygen is stored in the body during the mammalian diving response, it changes your body’s physiology so that you experience an increased blood volume and a minimized oxygen-use rate. These factors combine to produce the startling results of higher IQs and better concentration and focus that swimmers have been enjoying for years without even realizing it.

In fact, children as young as two months enjoy infant swim lessons at Swimming LA Swim School (accompanied by adults, of course)! By providing a fun and safe environment for infants and children to begin exploring the water, they hope to nurture a positive association towards swimming and physical activity.

President & Founder of Swimming LA Swim School, Matt Harrigan, created this music video of it's Little Guppy Infant / Toddler program. The combination of skills required to perform the exercises in this video start as early as 2-3 months and build with practice and consistency over time. Your child will learn these same skills at Swimming LA Swim School. This video is in the 1080HD format and is best to be viewed on a computer or YouTube.

A study by The Journal of Marriage and Family has found that quality trumps quantity when it comes to spending time with your kids. That same study indicates that the more quality time you spend with the little ones, the more likely they are to succeed. So, what better way to spend quality with your children than teaching them to swim? This is where Swimming LA Swim School comes in. As the premier baby swim school in Los Angeles, Swimming LA offers progressive swim classes for babies and adults alike.

Want to enroll your baby in Swimming LA's classes? Here are a few reasons why you should:

  • Enriched Emotional Connection: Swim lessons will definitely help you bond with your child! The Journal of Marriage and Family found that kids who share meals and hobbies (like swimming) with their parents have an easier time staying focused during teenage years.
  • Improved Psychological Well-Being: Swim lessons can help your child (and you) relieve some of your daily stresses. Here are some mental health benefits of Swimming LA classes.
  • Better Academic Achievement: Parent-child swim lessons foster a love of learning that carries over into a child’s academic life. Additionally, kids who learn to swim early often have a better grasp of literacy, numeracy, and oral expression which all contribute to success in the classroom. Check out Swimming LA's explanation of how swimming impacts intellectual development.

In this self-made video, President and Founder of Swimming LA Swim School, Matt Harrigan, and his 18-month-old son return to the water to create AQUA BOY 2, the movie. The combination of skills required to perform the exercises in this video start as early as 2-3 months and build with practice and consistency over time. Your child will learn these skills at Swimming LA Swim School.

While you may think that exercises like swimming only benefit the body, it’s well documented that this activity also helps with mental well-being. Swimming Los Angeles Swim School knows this well, and they want to help you -- mind and body. You don’t have to be an Olympic level athlete to reap the rewards of this practice; even just a few hours per week is sufficient to see a positive effect. Plus, swimming classes benefit every age group.

What are some other key benefits of swimming? Let’s take a quick look:

  • Mood: Swimming has been shown to have a positive effect on both men’s and women’s moods. In some cases it can reduce anxiety, and sticking to a regular regimen of exercise increases feelings of self-worth and pride.
  • Sleep Quality: Numerous studies confirm that regular exercise improves quality of sleep. Swimmers and others who stick to a routine of exercise 3-4 days per week not only are able to fall asleep easier but actually are able to sleep deeper. The benefits of being well rested are numerous; you’re more alert, experience improved mood and are better able to ward off disease.
  • Social Connections: If you have a family, swimming is an excellent activity for all ages. While getting physical exercise, you’re also spending quality time with those you love. Taking swim lessons with your child allows you bond while playing in the water.

While the physical health benefits of swimming are significant, there are plenty of mental health benefits to consider. Make a positive choice all around by signing yourself and your family up for baby or adult swimming lessons at Swimming Los Angeles Swim School. Check out the Swimming LA classes online, and, if you have any questions, feel free to give them a call at (310) 994-SWIM (7946).