Olympic swimming sensation and gold medalist Amanda Beard touts the benefits of swim lessons for children
Attention parents looking for a way to jumpstart your kids’ emotional, intellectual and physical growth: Olympic gold medal-winning swimming sensation Amanda Beard has a message for you.
“Get them in the water and teach them to swim,” says Beard, whose recently-opened Beard Swim Co., a swim school in Gig Harbor, Washington, has just become the first such facility recognized by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
“The scientific research over the past decade, showing how swimming impacts things like mathematic skills, story recall and motor skills, is quite impressive.”
The international sports organization is kicking off its nationwide More Than Water campaign to educate and encourage parents to start swim lessons for their children as early as six months.
“We chose to recognize the Beard Swim Co. first since Amanda has always embraced this philosophy that swimming is a life skill that not only makes kids healthier and happier, but also advances their development,” says Bruce Wigo, executive director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
“Now as a swim school operator, she has the opportunity to create programs that get more kids in the water sooner.”
The U.S. reportedly lags behind other countries, such as Australia and China, in its approach toward childhood swimming education. And that’s where Beard, who won seven medals in four Olympic games and held the world record for 200-meter breaststroke, comes in.
The 35-year-old mother of two opened her swim school three weeks ago in an attempt to spread the gospel of swimming and water safety for children. “We had over a thousand kids on the waiting list on the first day,” she says. “There’s such a need for this.”
Like many of her new students, Beard, who grew up in Southern California, first started taking swim lessons when she was six months old. By the age of four, she was competing on her local swim team.
RELATED VIDEO: Figure Skating Star Nancy Kerrigan Opens Up About Her 6 Miscarriages
Ten years later, Beard, who battled bulima and self-mutilation while winning international competitions, became the second-youngest Olympic medalist (one gold, two silver) in American swimming history at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Beard watched the 2016 Olympics in Rio from her couch, but is clearly still passionate about her sport.
“Swimming helps kids develop extra neurons that can give them a leg up,” she says.
“You’re not only teaching your child a skill that they’ll have for the rest of their life, but science is now showing that you’re improving their intelligence levels and helping them achieve many milestones earlier than the normal population.”