Swimming is an encouraged skill at any age. From recreational to competitional, swimming is a fun and healthy sport. That said, not everyone knows how to swim. Sometimes fear prevents us from learning new things while at other times it’s a lack of opportunity. Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to learn how to wade through the water. Still research does suggest it’s best to start early.
Acquiring New Skills at a Young Age
Interestingly, learning new things becomes harder with age. As the brain’s prefrontal cortex develops, we experience “functional fixedness”—or a more literal interpretation of what we see.
Children have a more flexible perception, allowing them to reimagine ordinary objects in new ways. Any parent recognizes this during play time—the simplest things become vessels for grand stories and adventures. Thus, for children, the act of developing a new skill is not hampered by preconceived notions that shape how we learn and behave.
Mentally, children have the upper hand. It just so happens they do physically too. The older we get, the less efficiently our bodies use oxygen. Since breathing is a vital aspect of swimming, older swimmers may find it difficult to master some of the breathing patterns. However, regular exercise can improve how well the body transports oxygen, so practice can make a big difference.
Other physical obstacles that come about with age include muscle memory (correcting bad habits) and rate of recovery (slower muscle repair).
Swimming Is Essential to a Child’s Safety
Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death in young children. Regardless if the child lives near open water—a lake or pool—learning to swim is a life-saving skill. It also promotes a healthier lifestyle, providing a framework for regular exercise and proper nutrition later in life.
To learn more about why it’s important to teach children to swim, visit our previous blog article here.