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Swimming Smart - early swimming shown to advance children’s cognitive skills

Introducing children to the water in their pre-school years could be as beneficial to their brains as it is to their bodies, according to recent educational research.

Following a three year study into the relationship between swimming and child development, scientists from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research found that children who start swimming between the ages of 3 and 5 develop cognitive and language skills more quickly than children who don’t.

In particular, pre-schoolers who swim were found to have better visual and motor skills, regardless of gender or socio-economic background. Activities such as drawing lines, cutting paper and colouring within a shape were performed significantly better by the study’s swimming participants. The team also noted higher levels of literacy, numeracy and communication skills amongst these children.

Lead Researcher Professor Robyn Jorgensen, highlighted the importance of the types of skills enhanced by early swimming stating, ‘Many of these skills are those that help young children into the transition into formal learning contexts such as pre-school or school.’

The study, considered to be the most comprehensive of its kind was carried out over a period of 3 years and involved interviews with parents and children from the United States, Australia and New Zealand. As many as 180 children aged 3-5 took part in the study.

Although the physical benefits of swimming for children have been well documented, this is the first large-scale study which has investigated the impact of the sport on cognitive development.

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