The Evidence Is In, Kids Who Swim Are Smarter

An extremely broad and comprehensive study out of Australia’s Griffith University has confirmed what we’ve known all along.

Swimmers are smarter…at least at the preshoool level.

Reported by Julie Rasicot, the Griffith Institute for Educational research suveyed over 7,000 children under the age of 5 throughout the United States, New Zealand and Australia, and they found that kids who swim score much higher than the normal population on cognitive development, language development and physical development.

If you swim or swam for a year-round team, you’ve probably heard this before. Swim-parents and coaches attest to it, but now we have conclusive evidence.

The first time I heard it — and really considered the validity of it — was at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. I heard it from the gentleman who appears in the video above, a famous coach some might describe as a little bit crazy.

Matt Biondi and Janet Evans were capturing headlines as multi-gold medalists from Team USA, but the Aussie standout was Duncan Armstrong. (Duncan claimd gold in 200 meter freestyle by drafting off of Matt Biondi for 150 meters, then blazing home on the final lap, winning in world record time, 1:47.25.) Duncan’s coach, Laurie Lawrence, was more famous for his hoots and hollars from the pool deck. He jumped and jigged around, screaming and slapping his hat on his leg. Laurie’s celebrations are like nothing I’ve ever witnessed on deck. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t help but look for Laurie whenever you know he’s at a competition. In quieter moments, he was a soft-spoken advocate for the sport, singing it’s praises.  Swimming makes kids smarter was his go-to line.

Laurie’s been an advocate for swimmming ever since 1988 when he started a Kids Alive Drowning Prevention Campaign. With government support, the program is nation-wide down under.

Laurie Lawrence coached other Olympic greats, such as Steve Holland, Tracey Wickham and Jon Sieben.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Grand Inquisitor
10 years ago

If the question is whether SWIMMING makes you smarter, the true control would be to compare the swimming group to say, a basketball or tennis group.
Would be shocked if swimming per se has anything to do with this.

Reply to  The Grand Inquisitor
10 years ago

Why limit the control group to athletes? Why not include subjects who spend an equivalent amount of time each day pursuing other types of activities? These questions are rhetorical, by the way. I don’t believe the swimming community would be at all interested in any study that’s not self-aggrandizing in some way.

10 years ago

After pre-school, it’s a mixed bag.

10 years ago

Well, here I was ready to be all angry that they might not have controlled for this, but huzzah, they did!

The research also found significant differences between the swimming cohort and non-swimmers regardless of socio-economic background.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

Read More »