Benefits for Young Children Learning to Swim Goes Beyond Swim Skills

Learning to swim is not only a lifesaving skill but one with some additional benefits. According to a 2009 study conducted by Robyn Jorgensen current at University of Canberra, children under the age of five who participate in swim lessons achieve a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population.

While some skills you would expect to see increase with swim lessons, such as better balance and coordination, children in swim lessons also showed social and cognitive development as much as 15 months ahead of the normal population.

Young swimmers in the study were found to understand direction better, which helps them be better prepared to respond to teachers as they move into the classroom. They were also more comfortable interacting with their peers, as well as adults who were not their caregivers.

Learning to swim at a young age can also help children develop deeper usage of language. They are exposed to important speech elements and useful concepts like shapes and colors. As they continue to work in swim lessons with new words, it can improve their own use of language.

The increased cognitive development found in young swimmers are the building blocks for skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, setting the stage for lifelong learning.

And if being smarter and better prepared for the school years was not a great enough benefit, swimming is also good for the health and development of a growing body. Swimming uses all parts of the body for development of gross motor skills. And we can’t forget to share with parents one of the best benefits swimming can offer, improved quality of sleep. Yes, learning to swim is both fun and a great way to help tire out those little ones by burning off some energy.

Swimming lessons are a great choice for young children to teach them a lifesaving skill as well as set the stage for lifelong learning.

Early Data Shows Swim School Safety Precautions Working

The United States Swim School Association recently surveyed members to get a picture of how many students are currently in lessons and what health and safety precautions have been put in place. The results so far have been positive and could point to swim schools being a safer child activity option.

Based on our recent survey of our swim school membership, 38,398 students have been swimming weekly for an average of 4 weeks. Those schools have had 1,959 staff currently working. While there have been 43 cases of COVID-19 positive exposures within swim school facilities, NOT ONE case has been traced back to a swim school.

We are finding that while students or staff may contract COVID-19 outside of the school, from family members or attending a party with friends, they are not found to be passing it along to those they have come in contact with while at the swim school before they knew they were positive. It would seem the health and safety precautions swim schools have put in place have been working.

Here is what we know from our members about actions they are taking.

Swim Lesson Styles Currently Being Offered
Many schools are offering more private swim lessons.

  • private | 88.24%
  • parent and baby lessons | 56.86%
  • semi-private to kids in same family | 48.04%
  • group with 3 – 4 students | 46.08%
  • semi-private with 2 students | 41.18%
  • camp style lessons meeting more than once a week | 11.76%
  • group lesson larger than 4 students | 5.88%
  • group lessons with parent in water (even for older students) | 5.88%

Type of Facilities Being Used for Swim Lessons Currently
Many of our members operate in indoor facilities. Members’ professional, year-round water safety instructional programs are housed in unique environments with the highest quality AIR/HVAC systems. Indoor swimming pools need a higher level of circulation to protect the buildings they exist in. Pools that are dedicated to instruction (and training) have superb ventilation systems by necessity. If they didn’t, then the building the pools are housed in would be eaten up by the humidity. Most pools turn over the air in a few hours, minimally, and a lot of pools can introduce up to 100% fresh air into the pool room by adjusting HVAC set points, drastically cutting down on the air turnover time. The air quality in an indoor pool can be significantly better than the air quality of a supermarket.

  • indoor, you own or lease the pool and it’s used only for swim lessons | 52.38%
  • outdoor, you own or lease pool and it’s used only for swim lessons | 26.67%
  • indoor, you lease or rent pool water and pool has other uses | 18.10%
  • outdoor, you lease or rent pool water and pool has other uses | 13.33%
  • outdoor, you travel to backyard or community type pools to offer swim lessons | 13.33%
  • other | 4.76%

Current Health and Safety Precautions Being Used by Swim Schools
The swim school business is all about safety. Providing safety instruction in a carefully managed and safe environment is all they do, and even outside of COVID-19, they do everything and anything they possibly can to keep the children in their care safe. They are stewards of safety; it is in our DNA and a key value of this association. Thus many swim schools have gone above and beyond CDC, state and local guidance. Please note as you review this list that facilities and areas of the country are experiencing different levels of risk. Not all precautions listed will work for all swim school communities.

  • come in and leave in swimsuit | 83.96%
  • all staff on deck, lobby, office wear cloth masks | 82.08%
  • staff temperature checks at start of shift | 81.13%
  • all customers wear cloth masks in building | 77.36%
  • all staff wear face shields in water | 72.64%
  • less classes in the pool at one time | 71.70%
  • hand sanitizer use required upon entry to the building | 70.75%
  • only one adult allowed in building with child | 70.75%
  • reduced class sizes for first opening phase | 66.04%
  • 6 ft markers on flooring | 65.09%
  • one way in and one way out of the building | 62.26%
  • customer health questionnaire posted at entrance to the building | 57.55%
  • closing locker rooms/changing rooms | 57.55%
  • staff health questionnaire at start of each shift | 55.66%
  • customer temperature checks as they enter the building | 52.83%
  • Plexiglas shield installed at customer service desk | 41.51%
  • private lessons only | 38.68%
  • staggered start times for classes | 38.68%
  • customer health questionnaire completed by each person prior to entering the building | 28.30%
  • other | 20.38%

Swim School Instruction Operates in Chlorinated Water Which Deactivates the COVID Virus
Per the CDC there has been no evidence of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in a pool. Participants and instructors are literally submerged in disinfecting (chlorinated) water many times during instruction. Many swim school pools go beyond standard pool hygiene code, adding extra UV light disinfection to pools for enhanced purity. Swim schools also typically go above and beyond the state laws to check and record pool chlorine levels, checking as much as four times a day to as often as every hour.

We are all needing to make tough choices as we navigate this pandemic as a community. Learning to swim is an essential life skill. One that is a vital layer of drowning prevention. It’s also an activity affording some great cognitive and physical benefits to children, a subject we will cover in more detail on a future post. In a time when activities are limited, learning to swim may be a great option for your family. We will continue to monitor best practices, guidance and data to allow our swim school members to make informed decisions to operate as safely as they are able.


UPDATE 9-25-2020:

Based on our recent survey of our membership, 41,982 students have been swimming weekly for an average of 3 months with 2,612 staff members currently working at swim schools.

While according to our survey there have been 99 cases of COVID-19 positive exposures within swim school facilities there have only been two case traced to a swim school, with zero students impacted.

Schools feel their health protocols are working and overall 85% feel they have an exceptional or very good culture of compliance.

All staff on deck, lobby, office wear cloth masks is now the leading health measure at 90%, followed by staff temperature checks at the start of each shift at 84%. Only one adult in the building with a child is at 82% and all customers wearing cloth masks in the building is at 79%.

How Swim Schools Differ from Public Schools

There has been a lot of debate right now about the reopening of public and private schools for kids. This is not the place to debate the options and shoulds here, but we do want to point out how swim schools differ from public schools.

In public schools students are in school for at least five hours a day, five days a week. | In most swim schools students are only in lessons for up to a half hour, once or twice a week.

In public schools large classes sizes are the norm, some as high as 30 students to a class. | Swim schools offer small class sizes with 1 to 4 students in most classes.

In public schools there are multiple surfaces and teaching tools needing disinfection. | In swim schools, when swimming, students and teaching tools are in chlorinated water that inactivates viruses.

In public schools there are multiple departments that would need to be reactivated such as bus and cafeteria services. | Swim schools offer focused class structure providing the best swim instruction for your student.

The swim school business is all about safety. Providing safety instruction in a carefully managed and safe environment is all we do, and even outside of COVID-19, we do everything and anything we possibly can to keep the children in our care safe. We are stewards of safety; it is in our DNA. Swim schools have in many cases gone above and beyond local and state guidelines to keep students and staff safe. Reach out swim schools in your area to learn more about the safety protocols they have in place.

Learning to Swim is a Public Health Need

Welcome to our new blog, Teach Learn Swim. We hope you find this to be a valuable resource for all things learn to swim.

We’d like to start out on the important topic of the public health need for swim lessons.

Learning to swim is a life-or-death skill, essential for every child.  Formal swim lessons between ages 1 and 4 can help reduce the risk of drowning by 88% according to a study conducted in 2009.[1] Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4 and a leading cause for young people up to 14 years of age.[2]  We believe drowning to be at an even higher risk now as many children’s activities remain closed. This gives children more time to find a body of water such as a backyard pool, neighbor’s pool, community pool, inflatable pool, sink, toilet, filled bathtub, bucket, ditches filled with rainwater, ocean, lakes, and rivers.  A young child can drown in less than 2 inches of water.[3]

Meanwhile, parents have even more distractions than ever, including remote working while children are home. This leaves caregivers unable to supervise children at all times.  Even before this pandemic, 9 out of 10 child related drowning deaths happened when a caregiver was supervising.[4] 69% of children who drowned were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water and 77% of drowning victims had been out of sight for less than five minutes.[5]

Private swim schools across the country educate over 250,000 children per week to learn to swim and unlike public pools, our programs are controlled learning environments. We understand that modifications will need to be put in place as swim schools/learn-to-swim programs reopen. We will cover the topic of modifications on a future post.

Knowing how to swim is something everyone should learn how to do. It can bring you a lifetime of enjoyment, and could quite possibly save your life.


[1] Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood, A Case-Control Study: Ruth Brenner, et al., 2009



[4] Research from National SAFEKIDS campaign,

[5] Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)