Baby Swimmers Get Lasting Benefits

TRONDHEIM, Norway, April 30 (UPI) — Children who are given swimming lessons in Iceland as infants have better balance and better grasp at age 5 than non-swimmers, researchers said.

Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said the study was conducted in his native Iceland because swimming is very popular there with many swimming once or twice a week — even babies.


Sigmundsson and Brian Hopkins, a professor of psychology from Lancaster University in England, said the study involved 19 baby swimmers against a control group of 19 children who did no swimming.

The 2- to 3-month-old babies got swimming lessons until they were about 7 months old. The infants were guided to dive under water, jump from the edge of the pool or pick up floating objects.

At age 5, both baby swimmers and the control group were tested for walking on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, skipping rope, rolling a ball and catching a beanbag.

The study, scheduled to be published in the May issue of Child: Care Health and Development, found clear results that the baby swimmers did better in balancing and reaching for things.

“It’s incredibly exciting that specific training for young babies has an effect later in life,” Sigmundsson said in a statement.

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