A typical session might involve helping the baby do a somersault on a floating mat, having the baby dive under water, jump from the pool edge, and balance on the hand of a parent while reaching to pick up floating objects. At approximately age 5, both baby swimmers and the control group were tested with similar exercises. The exercises included walking on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, skipping rope, rolling a ball into a goal and catching a beanbag. ... “We saw very clearly that baby swimmers were the best in exercises that related to balance and the ability to reach for things.”Think scaffolding. Or human capital theory. Or compound interest of the cerebellum. The earlier you learn something, the more it influences what you learn and can do later.
Although, this is still mildly surprising to me. With reading, a kid who learns the skill at age 4 will not necessarily be a better reader in third grade than a kid who learns at age 6. The kid may have two more years of packing in information, and knowing which is the boys' or girls' bathroom, but it doesn't make them better readers later on. With balance, however, it does build, according to this study.
Whether the study is replicated or not, it would not be a wild prediction that young women who used to be gymnasts might, on learning this, take their babies to swimming class in order to make them better gymnasts in kindergarten, which I gather is when elite gymnasts start.