Claiming that swimming is an essential life skill that everybody should know is not as hyperbolic as it sounds. Technically, in modern society we can live our entire lives without knowing how to swim. But is that really a life well-lived?
There are plenty of other things that we can technically live without such as social intimacy, cellphones, the internet, cars, love, and so on. Yet, these things have become so integrated into our culture that removing them from our lives would have a devastating, far-reaching effect. These things aren’t technically essential, but they might as well be.
In this article, I implore that you add “knowing how to swim” on the list of essential things we cannot live without. The most obvious argument is that knowing how to swim can reduce your chances of drowning, and that alone is a great reason. However, there are other benefits such as swimming being good for your health, both physically and mentally, as well as being a way to have fun and be social.
If you don’t know how to swim and you’re currently on the fence with regards to whether you should even learn to swim, then the answer is unequivocally YES! It doesn’t matter if you’re older now; anybody at any age can learn how to swim and benefit from it. Below, I provide some reasons why swimming is so important to know.
Why it is crucial to know how to swim
Swimming is life-saving
Let’s start with the most obvious reason why everyone should know how to swim: it can save your life, and possibly others’ as well.
I’m sure you’re aware that 71% of our beautiful planet’s surface is covered in water. We are surrounded by water in all directions. With so much water everywhere, I think it’s certain that at some point, you’re going to find yourself crossing these large bodies of water when you’re traveling.
Wouldn’t it make you feel a lot better knowing that, God forbid you ever find yourself in an emergency situation in the water, you have a way better chance of surviving if you know how to swim?
You don’t even necessarily have to be traveling to find yourself in an emergency. Floods, monsoons, tsunamis, and other natural disasters can occur and reach you all the way in your home.
Do these scenarios seem too unlikely to happen? Fair enough. Most drowning situations tend to happen at swimming pools or beaches. A young child might accidentally fall into the family pool and drown. Or an unsuspecting beach-goer might suddenly get pulled hundreds of meters away from shore by a rip-current and lack the stamina to swim back.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children between the ages of 1-4 that had undergone formal swimming lessons had an 88% reduction in drownings compared to those that had no training. Even if you’re not a kid anymore, knowing how to swim can not only save your life, but your child’s or someone else’s.
If you ever find yourself in one of the scenarios described above, or perhaps someone else is unfortunate enough to be in that position, then knowing how to swim can make the difference between a near-drowning or a fatality.
Swimming is great exercise
Swimming is one of the best ways to exercise. Swimming uses almost every single muscle in your body which helps you achieve a toned look. It also burns an incredible amount of calories and trains your cardiovascular system, helping you stay fit and healthy. What makes swimming superior to other sports is how low impact it is.
Swimming is easy on the joints
Many people don’t realize the wear and tear that other sports cause to their body. Running, for example, causes a lot of wear and tear in the ankle, knee, and hip joints if you’re running on hard surfaces such as concrete.
Over a long period of time, you may find yourself unable to run because of the pain you feel in those areas. Running may not necessarily be the cause of the pain, but if you have a pre-existing condition, then running can exacerbate those injuries.
Conversely, swimming takes place in a low gravity environment: a large body of water. When you’re doing your swimming strokes, your body is not coming into contact against any hard surfaces, and therefore unlikely to damage your cartilage.
The weightless environment takes a lot of pressure off your joints and, in fact, is a great place for people with arthritis to get some relief from their condition. The water resistance helps you to burn calories and train your muscles without being too overwhelming.
That said, swimming is known to cause “swimmer’s shoulder” if you swim too often or with improper form.
Swimming is therapeutic
Some people are deathly afraid of the water. Others find swimming to be a therapeutic experience. Swimming is great for both physical and mental therapy. Studies have found that swimming can help people suffering from depression and PTSD.
Since swimming is so easy on the joints, swimming is also effective for physical rehabilitation. This is known as hydrotherapy, and medical professionals have found that it helps patients maintain balance and stability, increase muscle strength and endurance, and decrease swelling.
Swimming builds confidence
If you know how to swim, you’ll feel like the world suddenly got a lot bigger. No more will you shy away when invited to a swimming pool, lake, or beach. Suddenly you can enjoy the pristine waters up front when you vacation in the Bahamas, instead of admiring it from afar.
All those water sport activities like kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and so on become a possibility for you instead of something you can only daydream of doing. Rather than being prohibited, the world is your oyster once you learn how to swim.
You can definitely swim alone, but the more the merrier. You don’t necessarily need to be swimming; there are many other water sports you can participate in where knowing how to swim is a prerequisite. We listed off a bunch in the paragraph above.
Parents with children could encourage their kids to join a swim team where they can meet new people, form life-long friendships, and experience the camaraderie that comes with being part of a team – which is great for their social life during their teenage and college years.
Don’t be that person that is always sitting on the sidelines just because you are afraid of the water and don’t know how to swim. By taking swim lessons, within 2-3 weeks you can overcome these fears and take advantage of opportunities to be more social.
Swimming is required for many careers
Have you ever wanted to have an aquatic career? You could be a dive instructor, marine biologist, underwater welder, pro surfer, scuba tour guide, and much more. What do all of these things have in common? That’s right, you need to be a strong swimmer.
By knowing how to swim, you open up many new opportunities whether it is recreationally, socially, or professionally.
You give yourself peace of mind knowing that you know how to handle yourself in an emergency situation. You can participate in many fun activities if you know how to swim. You can save your child’s life, or someone else’s life if they don’t know how to swim.
Swimming is an essential life skill, and that is why the majority of people in developed countries know how to swim. In North America, that equates to 88% of men and 78% of women.
Don’t let fear or embarrassment be the reasons holding you back. Take some adult swimming lessons and within 2-3 weeks you could be confident in the water and ready to walk through all of the doors that swimming has opened up for you.