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Develop children's minds through swimming


Last updated 3/7/2018 at 3:36pm

Shelby Ahrend photo

Swimming instructors Alene Endter, second from left, and Char Snyder hold two young students during lessons

FALLBROOK – Swimming has been part of the human experience for as long as man has been expressing himself. Neolithic pictographs or cave paintings, bas-reliefs, wall drawings and mosaics depicting swimmers have been discovered from such diverse places as the Gobi Desert, Egyptian tombs, Babylonia, Mesoamerica, Assyria and ancient Pompeii.

The first book about swimming was published in 1583, and by 1603, the emperor of Japan declared that school children should swim. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, scholars, theologians and philosophers continued to write about the development of this compelling skill.

By the 1800s, swimming was a competitive sport for males in England. Different methods or strokes were introduced and refined by various cultures. Swimming federations were established in Germany, France and Hungary. In 1847, women's swimming was introduced in Stockholm and lessons were made available to men and women in Denmark and Norway. Since the 1896 Games of the First Olympiad in Athens, swimming has been part of each Olympiad and has become a sport that is enjoyed throughout the world.

Is there a physiological reason for people's fascination with swimming? What compels humankind to swim? Modern science has determined that swimming can boast of previously unknown benefits to the human brain.

Shelby Ahrend photo

Grace Ahrend has fun in the pool.

Recent studies have determined that a child's brain develops through "bilateral cross-patterning movements" like those done in swimming. During swimming activities, more than 200 million nerve cells connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain and activate both cerebral hemispheres and all four lobes of the brain simultaneously. As a result, a bridge is built between both sides of the brain, which enables impulses and information to pass freely between them. The bridge is essential for physical coordination and activities such as learning language, reading and hand-eye coordination.

In 2011, scientists in Australia determined that children who were taught to swim by 5 years of age had statistically higher IQs. In a longitudinal study, Dr. Liselot Diem and colleagues reported that children who took part in swimming lessons from the age of two months to four years were better adapted to new situations and had better self-confidence and independence than non-swimmers.

To give a child the enjoyment and many benefits of swimming, visit


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