Swimming is one of the most popular forms of exercise. Currently, swimming is dominated by some of the tallest athletes worldwide. As a sport and leisure activity, swimming provides a wide range of health benefits. It helps burn off calories and building up your muscle tone as well as cardiovascular fitness.
However, can swimming make you taller? Many people believe there is a correlation between swimming and height growth. Yes and no, both temporarily and permanently, respectively. It is generally a myth that swimming makes people taller. However, it only makes you appear taller, which people often mistake for height growth.
Below is a comprehensive guide as to whether swimming can make you taller or not.
Why Do People Believe Swimming Can Make You Taller?
People who argue that swimming can make you grow taller often have a reason and sometimes a pretty solid one. The most common reason points to the swimming athletes they come across on TV and during swimming competitions.
Some of the common professional swimmers who happen to be incredibly tall include:
- Michael Phelps measuring 6f feet 3 inches (193cm)
- Matt Grevers at 6’9″
- Cate Campell at 6’1″
- Tom Jager at 6’4″
- Nathan Adrian 6’6″
- Matt Biondi 6’7″
- Sarah Sjostrom 6’1″.
Therefore, the common belief is that these swimmers and many others are generally tall since most of them have been swimming from a very early age.
Can Swimming Increase Height?
No, it cannot. However, it can make you appear elongated, which, unfortunately, most people confuse for growth. Anybody stretching and elongation that happens during swimming is primarily temporary and may not be a noticeable change in the long term.
Generally, swimming is a low-impact sport engaging the whole body. As such, when your muscles stretch out to resist the water, they lengthen or “grow.” Swimming eliminates the gravity force on your spine, allowing the spine to decompress, and giving you the impression of increased height.
Unfortunately, although swimming tends to elongate the body, there is no conclusive proof to suggest that plenty of swimming will help you increase height. There is no correlation whatsoever between professional swimmer’s heights and the actual sport.
While swimming makes your body appear elongated, such an effect rarely remains permanent, consequently demystifying the myth.
Can Swimming Affect Your Height?
On the brighter side, swimming can still affect your height positively-but there is a catch. While it is not conclusive, it is generally believed that swimming consistently-especially if you began at an early age-can make you appear taller even out of water.
Constant practice means your muscles will have to stay elongated. This may therefore play a part in convincing you that you are taller. In reality, once you stop engaging your body in such elongating activities, you realize the height growth was never permanent.
Moreover, swimming reduces the effect of gravity on your spine. Each time you are sitting or standing, gravity causes your spine bones to move downwards. This results in your spinal discs being squashed. However, when swimming, you are engaging your spine in a movement that resembles elongation. Unfortunately, it is not usually permanent but can give you the confidence boost you desire.
Why Are Most Swimmers Tall?
As previously noted, a good number of professional swimmers are incredibly tall. Unfortunately, most people tend to relate their heights to swimming. In truth, their heights are not in any way linked to the actual swimming activity.
Most professional swimmers you see on TV generally appear taller since they have a height advantage in the water. They are not tall from all those years of practice.
Moreover, being tall is often an advantage for most of these professional swimmers when joining the sport. Just like most professional basketballers, swimmers also come in staggeringly tall heights.
Why Are Tall Swimmers Good in Swimming?
Individuals who are generally tall and lean are physically designed to navigate pretty quickly through the water. They also have long arms and large hands that serve as oars, allowing them to push plenty of water to propel their bodies forward.
Moreover, tall people also have long legs and massive feet that act as fins, allowing them to swim faster without kicking a lot. They also happen to be very skilled at swimming, which technically means their height is just an added advantage to be good at what they do.
Can Shorter People Be Good Swimmers?
Being a good swimmer does not always have everything to do with height. Unfortunately, short people tend to be discouraged when compared to professional swimmers since they all have tall heights in common.
However, even if you are on the shorter end of things, your height should not discourage you from being a good swimmer. At 5’5″, Janet Evans is a former competition swimmer, a perfect example that even short people can be good swimmers.
It takes more than height for swimmers to be good at what they do. Such would include determination, constant practice, and a healthy lifestyle. However, with all factors constant except for height, increased height tends to favor a swimmer in a competition between a short and a tall swimmer.
What Makes the Perfect Swimmer’s Body?
If you follow keenly, you will see a wide variation in body types among all professional swimmers. However, the majority at international levels tend to appear tall and muscular-typically with short legs, long arms, and long torsos. Based on research, below are some of the ideal physical characteristics that define the best swimmers.
It is an obvious physical factor that gives swimmers a distinct advantage in the pool. It is a common factor among all professional swimmers.
This term defines the study of human body measurements and the physical variations present in humans. Most swimming athletes have unique physical variations besides height that grant them an advantage in the water. For instance, a swimmer with long wingspans has a definite advantage since they can reach further and pull more water with each stroke.
In addition, shorter legs also provide an added advantage for swimmers since they add more power without causing lots of drag. Large hands, lungs, and feet are also other anthropometric traits that favor swimmers. Large lungs increase natural buoyancy.
· Center of Mass
Swimmers generally have a balancing point in the water-commonly known as the center of mass. The closer it is to the center of floatation, the easier it becomes for the entire body to float horizontally with minimal effort. This is one of the major reasons athletes have long torsos appearing V-shaped.
Ankle and shoulder flexibility is a huge plus for swimmers regardless of their heights. Flexible shoulders allow an athlete to rotate their body while maintaining the course in the water during the long axis stroke.
With flexible shoulders, you can press your chest down more-especially in the short access strokes-thus elongating your strokes and making you more efficient.
Flexible ankles give you a powerful kick. They increase the foot’s surface area, making your foot perform more like a flipper. As such, you can push more water backward, significantly elevating your propulsion.
Generally, it is impossible to have the perfect swimmer’s body. You may have a combination of two or more characteristics of a good swimmer, which won’t compare to another swimmer. Therefore, it is safe to consider that these physical characteristics-height includes-are plain added advantages.
Tips for Being A Good Swimmer if You Are Short
You have already established that swimming won’t necessarily increase height. Therefore, if you consider yourself shorter, there are still several ways you can become the best swimmer without relying on height.
Below are a few major tips for short swimmers to stand out:
- Mental strength. Genetics are added advantages to make one a good swimmer. Therefore, you need mental strength to be able to swim without self-doubt. Mental strength keeps you going when you cannot reach your top shelf.
- Perfect your craft. Even without the staggering heights, there is a huge possibility that swimming athletes can still be the best at what they do. Master your swimming technique if you intend to be the best.
- Practice Constantly. Every day you go for practice is an opportunity to grow into the best version you desire
- Nail the details. Every second in a swimming competition matters. Therefore, if you want to maximize your wins, practice superior starts, turns, and finishes.
- Ensure flexibility and healthy nutrition. As mentioned above, flexibility plays a significant role in a swimmer’s movement. The more flexible you are, the easier swimming becomes for you. Most importantly, it would help if you took care of your nutrition and general well-being. A healthy individual is a top-performing athlete.
Can You Become Tall By Swimming Daily?
Swimming is a fun sport and hobby. It keeps you fit and feeling healthy. However, contrary to popular opinion, swimming does not make you grow taller-at least not permanently. Swimming gives you the impression of a height increase, which in most cases doesn’t last long. Finally, you can always guarantee that swimming regularly helps you relax while simultaneously makes you grow stronger.