Connect with us


Phuket Opinion: Life aquatic starts at a young age

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Much has been written about water safety in this space over the years. However, with a focus on maritime accidents and tourist drownings, we have neglected the troubling issue of the island’s children not being properly taught to swim, as a series of heartbreaking tragedies in recent weeks indicates (story here and here).

As the only “naked ape”, there can be little doubt that humankind’s unique ability among primates to master swimming has been an important, yet often overlooked, element of our evolutionary success.

Swimming, along with a host of other advanced cognitive and physical abilities, is best developed from an early age. There is considerable evidence to indicate that our brains our “hardwired” to pick up swimming naturally at about the same age we learn to walk.

However, lack of natural exposure to water during these years often ends much the same as an eye deprived of light during formative years – it fails to develop.

Learning to swim is like learning a language, the longer it is put off the harder it is.

Many organizations dedicated to child safety, such as the American Society of Pediatrics, now say that children as young as one year of age can benefit from informal swimming lessons. Studies cited show a decrease in the odds of drowning deaths, even in this age range.

However, the benefits do not stop there. Research led by Griffith University in Australia last year revealed that children who can swim also demonstrate more advanced cognitive and physical abilities than their non-swimming peers.

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

On Phuket, children are exposed to open water far more often than their counterparts in most other places in the world. In addition to our beaches, there are tin mine ponds, canals – not to mention thousands of swimming pools, few with lifeguards.

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of schools on the island that include swimming as part of their physical education program, and even in these cases the methods of instruction and time of exposure to water are often inadequate.

Most drowning deaths are the direct result of panic, so the key to avoiding them is confidence, which is the product of success over time. In fact, if people simply had the confidence to float in water over their heads, it would prevent the vast majority of drowning tragedies that are chronicled so often in these pages.

Parents need to consider the rewards of teaching their kids to swim from an early age. The cost can be as little as a weekly trip to a local beach, and in this regard we are truly spoiled for choice.


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

PM Prayut asks everyone to work together towards reopening

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Bangkok restrictions lifted on 8 categories, including swimming

Patong13 hours ago

Tar balls spreading along Phuket’s west coast beaches

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Phuket14 hours ago

Officials predict 600,000 tourists to Phuket following reopening

Phuket15 hours ago

Technician electrocuted to death while trying to fix jacuzzi

Pattaya15 hours ago

Pattaya pushes for August 1 Sealed Route reopening plan

Thailand16 hours ago

Mother alleges that Doctor mistakenly gave her 10 year old sleeping pills

Bangkok16 hours ago

1 million Sinopharm doses arrived Sunday

Tourism17 hours ago

Reopening guidelines for Phuket and Samui

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 3,682 new cases, 20 covid-related deaths, provincial totals

Thailand17 hours ago

Poll shows schools, students, parents, “not ready” for online learning

Chon Buri18 hours ago

Man returns lost parakeet, gets rewarded with BBQ

Thai Life19 hours ago

Thai Lion predicts football matches, other abilities currently unknown

Tourism19 hours ago

Reopening details for Phuket, Samui and beyond laid out

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

Multiple Chiang Rai schools to close after infections found

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8