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Should it be required by law that children be taught how to swim in school?

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posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:29 PM
This is a thought that has been pestering me for quite some time now. Now please be aware that I am not pushing this idea, rather I am just pondering it

To me it seems that this could cut the annual drowning deaths by more than tenfold, and It could also provide excercize for children, potentially reducing childhood obesity.

The idea behind this is that whether we like it or not, we are surrounded by water. Three fourths of the Earth's surface is covered by some form of water, and there is always the small chance that any given person will end up in a situation where he/she has to swim in order to stay alive. Even if you hate swimming, and avoid going to a pool or a lake whenever possible, there are other ways you can become unwittingly trapped in water. You can be on a plane that has to ditch on water, or you could be in a car or a train that falls of a bridge. And If you're especially unlucky you can be caught in a flood, which is allegedly the most common natural disaster (I remember hearing about this in an old insurance commercial).

But the one thing that really caught my attention was a foolish stunt my friend pulled while we were on vacation. He falsely told us that he could swim (which was later proven otherwise), and we took him out on a boat owned by another friend of mine. I don't rember exactly what happened, but when we were anchored at the middle of a lake, we went swimming and my foolish friend suddenly found himself unable to stay above the water. We were able to rescue him but ever since, his parents do not trust him very much at all.

Again, I am not pushing the idea that this law should become universal as soon as possible. I am open to any criticism availible. I am even willing leave exactly what is to be taught open for debate: wether it be treading wader or more advanced swimming like doing laps.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:34 PM
reply to post by Xammu

Quite honestly it doesn't sound like a bad idea to me. It could be just a branch of gymnastics that are required. I like the idea myself. I remember growing up and everyone knew how to swim. It was a given. We all lived on the shore. As I became more worldly I realized that not everyone knows how to stay afloat.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:35 PM
When you say "required by law" it automatically turns me off no matter what you are talking about. But, in this case, yes I think it would be wise to recommend a physical education curriculum that teaches all children how to swim.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:38 PM
I am all for starting the kids really early. We had to take swimming lessons when I was in grade 5. I failed. Only kid in the class who failed floaters.

When I had my son, his grandmother had a pool at her building. Her and his father taught my son when he was 2. I was not allowed to even watch, because they knew he would pick up on my fear. Good idea.

He is now a really strong swimmer, I am glad I didn't wait too long. By grade 5, I already had a real strong fear of drowning, and still can't swim. But I know what floats, and I can float with the lid of a styrofoam cooler

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:39 PM
Most schools don't have pools though, or anywhere to swim. And even if there are area pools or lakes, the logistics and expense of getting kids there would be prohibitive. Then of course, you're going to get your issues with the way kids are...many feel too shy or embarrassed to even change in front of others in the locker room or wear shorts, never mind a swimsuit. Schools that do have these facilities generally have it as an elective. Just some thoughts. But, yes, it would be a good idea if it were possible.

Sorry...edit to the U.S!

[edit on 7/15/2010 by ~Lucidity]

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:41 PM
And who's going to pay the law suits of children who didn't learn to swim and died or were hospitalized? I also agree with a poster above me, the whole "required by law" deal is a major turn off.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:47 PM
When I started school in South Africa in 1983 it was mandatory. The school had to have a registered swimming teacher and all pupils had to attend lessons from grade 1 in school hours once a week. I think that was a pretty clever thing to do, as all the kids were eventually able to swim at a very young age and overcome their fears.

Another wily thing to do was to have it during school hours (late mornings). This gave the kids a break from classes (encouragement - *wink wink*) and cooled us down during the hot summer.

Hell, mom didn't know I could even swim, until I hopped into the neighbor's pool 1 afternoon. She freaked out because she couldn't swim, but I had a jolly good time

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 09:48 PM
It is mandatory in Australia I think. At least, every school teaches it.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:01 PM
reply to post by Nventual

I was just thinking that, not sure if it is fully mandatory, or just part of the curriculum. Growing up in Aus you don't even think about swimming, it's the same as learning to walk and is just taken for granted pretty much.

But then in high school, that is when I began to notice some of the Asian kids were particularly poor swimmers, or couldn't swim at all.

Then later in life experiencing life in other countries, you quickly realize how few people actually can swim. Most Asian countries, learning to swim is like a luxury for school kids, it's just not generally done.

So I would say instead of making it mandatory, due to lack of resources and opportunities in many countries (including developed ones), it should definitely be highly encouraged by authorities. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:05 PM
At the Turn of the Century, it was quite common place for American Universities to have swimming as one of the requirements for graduation. There had been a concerted effort to bring swimming into national prominence as part of a physical fitness regimen but mostly, to help "water proof" Americans. It might be quite difficult to believe today, but swimming was not an ability that was as widespread as one might have assumed. The majority of Americans simply didn't know how to swim or to swim effectively. Of course, The onset of WWI helped to change that.

As recently as a 1977 survey, 42 percent of institutions had some sort of swimming requirement, according to Larry Hensley, a University of Northern Iowa professor who has studied the history of physical education. But by 1982 that figure had plummeted to 8 percent. Subsequent surveys no longer bothered to ask about swimming requirements.

In 2003, Ferrum College in Virginia dropped its swim test. Colgate threw in the towel last year. The holdouts now include Notre Dame, MIT, Cornell, Columbia, Hamilton, Dartmouth, Swarthmore, and Washington & Lee, plus the service academies.

The requirement is fertile ground for campus legends, some true, most not. Before Notre Dame began admitting women in the early 1970s, students did indeed take the test in the buff. But there's apparently no solid evidence behind any of the oddly similar stories that circulate on many campuses about how the test started: A wealthy donor whose son drowns gives money for the pool on the condition that the college require a swim test.

In fact, many swimming requirements date to the early 20th century, when there was a national effort to improve water safety, or more specifically to World War I and World War II, when college campuses became military training grounds and the country underwent bouts of anxiety over its physical fitness. SOURCE

Interestingly enough, perhaps it is time to reinstitute swimming instruction as part of the educational curriculum. It would certainly save hundreds of needless deaths by drowning each year.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:12 PM
One of the requirements at my high school was passing a swim test, if you were unable to pass the test then you would have to take a swimming course.

In special cases where the person wasn't able to swim they got a free pass on it, or if the person was allergic to chlorine, the swim test or swimming course would be done at a lake.

The swim test was, swimming 10 laps, it actually might of been 20 laps, I don't remember, and treading water for 30 minutes.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:13 PM
Required by law - absolutely not! As an after school program with the permission of the parents and proper supervision- perhaps. Schools have too many uneducational activites in my opinion already. They need to be in the classroom learning Math, Reading, Science, etc. I can't quote stastics right now but a lot of kids can't even read after being passed on thru several grades. There are other alternatives for recreation - in the US we have the YMCA/YWCA and other sports and recreational organizations. They need these things to do when they are not in school to keep them off the streets and from getting in trouble while parents are working.


posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:13 PM
reply to post by Xammu

I agree that kids should be taught to swim early.

The "required by law" part though gives me chills.

The image of Nazis with machine guns standing guard around a pool, surrounded by barbed wire and forcing kids to learn to swim comes to mind.

It should be taught, but let's lose the "required by law" part OK.

Edit to add: "required by law" really means "forced at gunpoint" in my mind. Try going against something that's "required by law" and see how long it takes for them to send men with guns to set you strait.

[edit on 7/15/10 by FortAnthem]

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:16 PM
It should be taught at an early age, before kids are told too much about drowning. That's what caused my fears, and grade 5 was too late for me to learn. Too much fear had set in.

Grade 1 would have been much better to start, and it could be part of the phys ed curriculum. Once a week to a community pool.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:17 PM
Here in Iceland everyone can swim, it is required as we are younger to learn it while we attend school. If i can remember it correctly, it is 3 years that we take swimming as a class.

Might be becouse we are on a island in the middle of nowhere, if everything goes kablaff. Only way out is by sea

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:19 PM
reply to post by Xammu

I didn't mean to imply that children didn't need to learn to swim - they should. Just not during school hours.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:25 PM
reply to post by Nventual

Yep I think you are right. We had swimming lessons from Grade prep, so we were about 4 and 5 years old and all the way until the end of primary school as part of our Phys. Ed classes.

It is a great idea ALL kids should learn how to swim at an early age. Whether taught by parents or in school.

It took place in first and last term of the year (hottest time here in Aus). It took place in the public pools if your school did not have one. I went to two primary schools during my time, one public and one private.

As for getting to the pool, it was a 5 minute bus trip. At the public school the bus trip and pool entry/lessons were covered by the Government, at the private school I just remember Mum having to pay a small bus fee each 'swimming term'. So I am guessing in the 80's the pool entry/lessons were a Government initiative. The lessons were done by registered VICswim providers, and helped out by teachers who had their 'Bronze Medallion'. Later in high school swimming continued, but more as a 'school sport' but they encourage everyone to go for their bronze.

I don't remember the wearing of a swimsuit as being embarrassing....But I do remember as I got older the 'getting changed' part slightly embarrassing! At which point I became very good at getting changed completely covered with a towel like most of the others

*edit spelling

[edit on 15-7-2010 by nonelikeithot]

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:35 PM
I had to take a mandatory semester of swimming while in high school in the US. There where some good tests of ability, such as:
1 Treading water for 10 minutes, I think, with clothes on.
2 Retrieving a diving block from 12 feet below the waterline.
3 Laps.
4 Treading water for 30 minutes, w/ appropriate water clothing.

There was other stuff also. I was able to do it all with ease thanks to learning how to swim as a young child at the local YMCA.

All of my family members know how to swim. Everyone learned at a young age. I didn't need the class in high school, as I was all ready part fish, but some of my peers certainly did.

On another note, my almost 17 month old niece can swim around all by herself in her floatie suit. It's amazing and really cute to see.
Don't go jumping on the 'you're irresponsible with her' rant. She doesn't get out of arms reach.

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:36 PM
Anything involving physical activity is going to be a benefit. Swimming would be a good idea because a lot of people cannot swim. If it was taught in schools it would help out alot.

But who here thinks that TPTB are going to enact anything that is actually beneficial at this point? To me it seems like a pipe dream...

Who here has been in the Department of the Navy?

You learn a deep dark secret when you take the swim test during basic training. there is one common factor among 99% of those who can't swim coming in. I will see if you guys can figure out what it is...

posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 10:43 PM
reply to post by cloudbreak

I think the reason every school teaches it here is due to tradition. They probably started teaching it not long after we 'took over' the country due to everyone living so close to the beach. I could be way off though.

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