How Learning to Swim Is Like Playing the Piano

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to hear that learning to swim is like learning to ride a bike, but did you know it’s also like learning to play the piano? Here’s how.

Athletes practice for a long time thinking about their form. At some point, form becomes natural—internalized. Without thinking about it, they continue to improve. When kids learn to swim, the process is very conscious for a long time, and there’s a lot to think about and a lot to feel. At some point, the knowledge starts to move into your child’s body instead of his head, just like walking or riding a bike.

If you’ve ever played a musical instrument, you’ve experienced this. You can play a piece of music you memorized years ago just by putting your hands on your instrument, but when you try to consciously remember what to play next, the ability slips away. This level of automatic proficiency comes to your child’s swimming after enough practice.

Don’t believe me? Try consciously thinking about what your body should do next the next time you go for a walk or run or ride a bike. Let me know if you can do it.