The Swimming Brain
Wednesday, 29 August 2018
The first few years of life are crucial to your baby’s development. In the first 2000 days of life your babies brain will grow to function at 90% of capacity. We are all born with the connections ready to go, it is our experiences during this time that will shape how we develop and grow.
At the age of 2 your baby’s brain has already tripled in size and has over 100 trillion synapses. The way these synapses in the brain connect is by doing and the experience that your baby is exposed to.
An early introduction into an aquatic environment encourages movement, bonding and a sensory sensation which helps your babies brain development. By making the movements in the water, the brain is making those connections and storing the movement memories.
Once you begin your child’s aquatic journey it is important to understand that all of those wonderful connections that you make at such an early age are in jeopardy. Many of the synapses created in the brain during the first years of life are made up of things that your baby will not need later so neural pruning commences. Neural pruning is where the brain starts to cull the connections that are no longer required to function from day to day. Connections that were made with movements that are no longer practiced are ‘pruned’ to make way for other required connections. Stopping your child’s swimming at this stage will mean the brain will start to cull the connections related to swimming.
Continuing your child’s learn to swim journey to the point that their neural pruning starts to slow will be important for your child to retain the skills required to swim for a life time. It is important for your child’s swimming development that the movements required are practiced until this neural pruning slows down, by doing this you will be engraining a skill for life.
Neural pruning will slow as per the growth chart below
Having your child start their learn to swim journey during the rapid period of brain growth means that the movements required for swimming will come easier and faster. Once your child’s synapses have made the foundation of their development without these movements or knowledge, learning to swim later in life will be a little harder. Once a child stops their swim progression the brain will cull the unused connections meaning upon return they will need to start again. A child that stops progression during the rapid growth period (2-5 years of age) will recommence as a beginner swimmer so it is worth while having this period as continued learning period.