At One with the Water, we are fierce advocates for early swim lessons and drowning prevention. We often reference the “lifesaving” skill of swimming. This Giving Tuesday, I want to take a moment and tell you exactly why.
Swimming has a profound impact on the physical, mental, and psychological make-up of a person.
Swim lessons for water safety.
The number one method of reducing drowning risk is access to quality swim lessons. While no method is foolproof, swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by a staggering 88%.
Therapeutic recreation benefits.
Swimming strengthens gross and fine motor skills for easier learning. Due to the specific bilateral motions used in swimming, the entire brain – all lobes and both hemispheres – are working in concert with each other. These movements help to develop the connecting tissue between the hemispheres and increase communication between the two halves of the brain — the results: better cognitive function and better learning ability. Additionally, a 2012 study discovered that children taught to swim at a young age hit developmental milestones consistently quicker than average. They displayed better coordination and increased fine motor skills like cutting paper, coloring in the lines, and other mathematically-related tasks. The applications are far-reaching, especially for children with special needs.
Health benefits of swimming.
The health benefits of swimming are well documented, but there are specific benefits for individuals with special needs. Water buoyancy allows previously restricted individuals to move freely and helps build muscle in low muscle tone individuals. Additionally, self-regulation, speech, oral motor control, strength, and coordination are just a few areas that can improve with therapy in the water. According to Disabled Sports USA, swimming not only offers flexibility within the joints and muscles but strengthens the cardiovascular system as well as the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body. Moreover, because the heart works harder when the body is submerged, patients benefit from decreased swelling, reduced blood pressure and improved joint position. This, in turn, improves the swimmers’ proprioception, or body awareness.
Social/psychological benefits of swimming.
Research shows that participation in swimming for individuals with disabilities afforded the participants heightened senses of self-concept, independence, ability and pride and an enhanced perceived quality of life. Athletes found that they were able to redefine their physical capabilities, strengthen social connections and improve acceptance among their peers.
Drowning prevention for members of our most vulnerable populations is a matter of life and death. Aside from an increased risk of drowning, children with permanent disabilities who lack consistent therapeutic interventions face increased isolation, increased care requirements, decreased mental health, increased fear and anxiety, and shortened life expectancy.
Your donations are critical to providing the lifesaving skill of swimming to children most at risk.