It’s summertime, so everyone everywhere is swimming.
Swimming is great fun and a good way to stay cool and fresh when the weather is hot and sunny. Swimming for leisure and water safety are definitely the main reasons parents sign their children up for swimming lessons but, you would be amazed to hear that there are plenty more other benefits that swimming has! A recent study in America has concluded that swimming should be the first sport children must learn and here are the more hidden benefits of swimming:
In a new publication by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Michele LaBotz, a sports medicine physician in the U.S, and a member of the A.A.P. council on sports medicine and fitness has concluded that parents with younger preadolescent children should embrace variety in the way their children move. Dr. LaBotz advises parents to provide their children with a variety of sports and try to include swimming in the pack.
She recommends children should balance a running sport like football with a sport that uses more upper-body motion like swimming.
Having a good upper body strength is very important for the overall growth and it matters specially later on in life. Therefore, all parents, physical education teachers, and educator must be mindful that for having a healthy physical growth, young children need to participate in a wide range of sports and activities.
Swimming is a very technical sport and learning it is a process, not an event. Learning to swim with a good technique needs learning a lot of small parts and putting them together in a coordinated format. So, to learn to swim, you must do plenty of practicing!
The relatively long process of learning to swim builds perseverance and grit. Grit is the ability to stick to a task and not to give up when things get tough. One of the greatest benefits of swimming is the challenges and the opportunities for rewards and accomplishments. Through small challenges and a step-by-step learning process, children become more and more confident and they understand even for achieving a tiny progression in swimming, they have to practice.
Believing in your own abilities to overcome challenges is what swimming teaches children and, that’s how swimming builds self-confidence. Plus, at swimming lessons and in swimming pools, children can have plenty of opportunities for making new friends and grow their social networks. Nobody would disagree the more friends a child has, the more self-confident a child gets.
Swimming is a barefoot activity and that itself helps children with their brain development.
“Children have been moving in sneakers (trainers) for physical activity for so long we seem to have forgotten that feet do have sentient qualities,” says Ms Rae Pica. Ms Rae Pica is an education consultant and child development and physical activity specialist.
New research has confirmed feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain. Hence, anything which stimulates feet during childhood can benefit brain development. Swimming is one of the very few sports that children can only do barefoot.
Ms Rae Pica recommends parents regularly involve their children with physical activities that need no shoes. She says: ‘going barefoot strengthens feet and improves body alignment.’
When children are active with no shoes, like when they are swimming, their feet can move freely. When feet move freely in water, children will have a deeper sensory experience which will help them to develop a more connected nervous system. Freedom of movement in water, in addition to the stimulation that water itself provides to the feet, will result in new connections between nerve cells, formation of new neurological pathways and hence, a more developed brain. No wonder in a separate study in Australia they found children who start swimming early in life, also perform better at school academically.