Yes, Add Swim Lessons to the Public Elementary School Curriculum

Historically, many US colleges and universities mandated swimming tests for graduation.  While many of those colleges have dropped this traditional requirement, a handful of them are steadfast in maintaining this requirement.  It is debatable whether a swimming test (yes, test) should be or should not be a graduation requirement, and cases can be made for either one.  Nevertheless, swimming should be viewed as a life skill, like walking, running, reading or the ability to do simple arithmetic.

Why wait till one goes to college?  An earlier encouragement (and enforcement to some extent) to swim at the elementary school level can help change the drowning statistics and promote healthy lifestyle among youngsters.

In June of 2015, the Minneapolis State Legislation passed a bill to look into and develop swimming resources to provide mandatory swimming lessons for all state public schools.  The report from the state education commissioner is due in February 2016.  I am eagerly waiting for a report and I hope to give you the good news.   If Minneapolis is able to implement the bill, it will be the first state and become a trailblazer for other states to follow. It’s only apt that ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’ state is taking the lead.

There have been some attempts by public school districts in the country to mandate swimming lessons as part of the school curriculum.   One such example is the Wenchatee School Board (in Washington State); this group adopted a program two years ago that mandates swim assessment test for every incoming high school freshman.  I am surprised that many similar efforts are not underway. At this point of time, it appears that the states have abdicated the responsibility to the parents. This certainly poses a problem as many parents don’t have access to proper swimming facilities, and many of those who have, cannot afford swim lessons for their kids.

Swim lessons in the public schools as part of their curriculum will encourage and motivate families to consider swimming seriously, particularly, the ones who cannot afford it otherwise.

I do understand that today most of the public school systems have budget constraints and are expected to do more with less.  Building and sustaining swimming facilities by the public schools can be expensive, but that alone should not prevent us from being creative.

Explore the possibility of establishing public-private ventures to bring swim lessons to the public schools.

I urge my readers to ask their local legislators and school administrators to creatively form public-private partnership with business leaders from private sectors, and share the responsibility.  After all, shouldn’t teaching life skills to the next generation be one of our top priorities?

– Meghna Sil


5 thoughts on “Yes, Add Swim Lessons to the Public Elementary School Curriculum

  1. I really liked this article! I think swimming should indeed be more available to all kids by making it mandatory as part of the curriculum in all schools. I think another school which has swimming as a mandatory component of their education is Eton College, but I don’t think the ‘luxury’ should be offered only in private schools.

    Swimming would contribute to the overall life of the students, and I strongly believe that it would reflect the academic performance.

    The public education systems of our modern times are unfortunately unmodern and are hindered from innovation, echoing the Prussian system of the early 1800s, with the founder’s, Humboldt’s purpose being to educate soldiers who would not flee the war against Napoleon.

    I think innovation in education will be crucial for the development of our entire modern society, and the integration of sports such as swimming in the overall life preparing educational experience is as crucial as learning about the photosynthetic algae zooxanthellae.

    I think healthy aware learners will be more beneficial than highly caffeinated young algae experts for our future society.

    I hope more young people read this blog and take steps towards becoming active in the improvements of the education experience of future generations, and doubt their current states.


  2. I could not agree more. We definitely need to focus on the safety – elementary schools are the good starting points for the kids to learn swimming early on.


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