Did You Know?

Swimming in the U.S.

·    In the United States during 2009, there were approximately 301 million swimming visits each year by persons over the age of six 1.

·    Thirty-six percent of children aged 7-17 years, and 15% of adults in the United States, swim at least six times per year 1.

·    Swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States 1.

·    Swimming is the most popular recreational activity for children and teens (ages 7-17) 1.

·    About 91 million people over the age of 16 swim in oceans, lakes, and rivers each year in the United States 2.



Swimming Lessons and Drowning Prevention

Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in the 1- to 4-year-old children, although our estimates were imprecise and 95% CIs included risk reductions ranging from 3% to 99%.

During 2000 through 2005, 6900 children younger than 20 years died of unintentional, non–boat-related drowning in the United States (rate, 1.42 per 100 000 person-years).1 

Among children younger than 5 years, the rate was 2.68, and among those 1 to 2 years of age, it was 4.12.

Interventions to prevent drowning are dependent on the age of the victim and the circumstances surrounding the event.24 For toddlers, mandatory pool fencing is one effective strategy for prevention of many drownings; however, it primarily addresses circumstances in which a child gains unauthorized access to the pool but does not address submersions that occur when a child is known to be in the pool area or around another body of water, eg, a lake or canal.58 The effectiveness of other potential prevention strategies is unknown.4 

One such strategy is increased swimming ability through participation in swimming lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, after the age of 5 years, all children be taught to swim; however, because of the absence of data regarding effects of swimming lessons on drowning risk, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend for or against swimming lessons as a preventive strategy among children younger than 5 years.911


Ruth A. Brenner, MD, MPH; Gitanjali Saluja Taneja, PhD; Denise L. Haynie, PhD; Ann C. Trumble, PhD; Cong Qian, MS; Ron M. Klinger, MBA; Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, MPH

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(3):203-210. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2008.563.