SwimSAFER, Smarter, Stronger Long Before Citius, Altius, Fortius, Says Aussie Lifesaving-Skill Campaign

Swimming - a lifesaving skill - Photo Courtesy: Swim Australia

SwimSAFER, Smarter, Stronger A Lifesaving Skill

The four posters released by SWIM Australia today to celebrate the 2019 Australia-wide “SwimSAFER Week” (November 19-25) say it all: swimming not only makes our kids safer but also smarter and stronger.

The posters issued by Australia’s Industry Body for 600 Swim Schools illustrate key important lifesaving skills from learning to swim to the importance of making swimming fun.

Long before thoughts of Citius, Altius, Fortius, the need for and fun to be had in SwimSAFER, Smarter, Stronger are summed up by the key message in the SWIM Australia posters:

  • Swim SAFER with adult supervision
  • Floating is a LIFESAVING skill
  • Learning to swim is great FAMILY time and;
  • “Monkey monkey” is a LIFESAVING skill

SWIM Australia CEO and former elite Australian swim coach Gary Toner says:

“Swimming should be about having sensible fun, first and foremost but is very much a necessary and potentially a lifesaving skill,” Toner said as kids and teachers from “Learn to Swim” schools across the country gear up to take the plunge on the eve of summer.

“It is a lesson that should be formally learned from as young as four months, under the guidance of a qualified teacher and at a registered Swim Australia swim school. We believe that these posters will illustrate the important skills of learning to swim that make you safer around water and the importance of making swimming fun.

“Other resources available for swim schools and families include certificates, stickers, colouring and activity sheets, water safety guides and social media images. For a long time, we’ve personally watched the benefits young children can experience physically, emotionally and socially, simply by learning to swim.

“But now it’s very exciting to finally reveal proof, pinpointing the holistic advantages assisted by swimming from a young age.


Photo Courtesy: SWIM Australia


“Recent world first research – performed by Griffith Institute for Educational Research, and part funded by Swim Australia – proved regular and ongoing pool practice from a young age, could make kids Smarter,” says Toner.

“Around 7000 parents of children aged five years and under – from Australia, New Zealand and the US – were surveyed, and found children who had learned how to swim from a young age, were anywhere from six to 15 months ahead of the normal population, when it came to cognitive skills, problem solving in mathematics, counting, language and following instructions.”


Photo Courtesy: Swim Australia


Associate Professor, Peter Reaburn from Central Queensland University confirms that swimming can certainly make children stronger:

“Regular physical activity in childhood provides the foundation for an active lifestyle: Swimming improves strength because it provides resistance training in the water and improves cardiovascular fitness. It stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles to not only improve circulation to working muscles, but it increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and the muscle’s ability to take up and use oxygen for energy production.

“SwimSAFER Week is a valuable tool and an exciting part of our annual calendar. It helps us better educate the community on the importance of learning to swim.”

Swim Australia says swimming year-round, learning and abiding by vital water safety skills, and participating in the Swim SAFER Week, will not only help kids become safer, smarter and stronger in and around water, but in everyday life as well.

Griffith University’s Research


Photo Courtesy: SWIM Australia

Back in 2012-13, research led by Griffith University in a four-year project entitled Early Years Swimming, Adding Capital to Young Australians  demonstrated more advanced cognitive and physical abilities than other children.

The findings of the four-year project by the Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Laurie Lawrence’s Kids Alive Swim Program and SWIM Australia, which funded the work, surpassed expectations and indicated that swimming children have many advantages when starting school.

“While we expected the children to show better physical development and perhaps be more confident through swimming, the results in literacy and numeracy really shocked us,” lead researcher Professor Robyn Jorgensen said.

“The children were anywhere from six to 15 months ahead of the normal population when it came to cognitive skills, problem solving in mathematics, counting, language and following instructions.”

Researchers surveyed parents of 7000 children aged five years old and under from Australia, New Zealand and the US. In Australia, more than 120 swimming lessons in 40 swim schools in Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria were observed as part of the project, summed up in this 2013 launch:

Parents reported back on their children’s development and the information was weighed against the expected progression of children through established milestones.

Professor Jorgensen said that as well as achieving physical milestones faster, the swimming children scored significantly better in visual-motor skills such as cutting paper, colouring-in and drawing lines and shapes.


Photo Courtesy: SWIM Australia

Parental bias is inevitable. A core group of 176 3-5-year-old children was involved in a more intensive assessment process using internationally approved testing methods.

“On average, these children were eleven months ahead of the normal population in Oral Expression, six months ahead in Mathematics Reasoning and two months ahead in Brief Reading,” Professor Jorgensen said.“However, most amazing was the difference in Story Recall (17 months ahead) and Understanding Directions (20 months ahead).

“These are absolutely staggering results, especially when you consider the average age of the swimming kids we tested was just 50 months.”

Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence, mentor to Duncan Armstrong and many others,  weighed in with:

“This is mind-blowing stuff because it confirms the importance of swimming lessons beyond water safety alone. It proves that swimming truly does provide added capital to children’s lives by helping them socially, physically, cognitively and emotionally.”

The research was shared with Federal and State governments but the messages therein take time to filter through. SWIM Australia’s latest poster campaign for SwimSAFER week aims to turn the pump up on that filter.