theorycast.03 :: Why do swimmers make better scholars?

Magz in the pond by ForeverSouls

Here’s another irregular episode of TheoryCast (direct mp3). From the podcasting workshop, we spoke afterwards a little bit about handling difficult undergrads, especially those involved in atheletics. While excusing the stereotype, we learnt that swimmers really do better in school than footballers. Why’s that? Is it because swimming is a solitary thing, and if so, is it the same for academia? While schools try hard to establish a community of learning, perhaps learning is still a very personal thing.

If you know any published research which delves into the relationship of solo vs. team-based activities to academia, do share via comments or leave a voice message!


  1. Posted March 7, 2006 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Maybe swimmers keep all the oxygen circulating well in their head. :)

  2. Posted March 7, 2006 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    True, but other atheletes would also have increased circulation. Other theories?

  3. Your brother
    Posted March 8, 2006 at 1:04 am | Permalink


    Be wary of other factors coming into play otherwise you may form an unrelated hypothesis.

    Firstly, is the sample (people) used representative of the different groups of atheletes? Imagine having only surveyed 10 swimmers and coincidentally, they happen to be good at their academic work?

    Secondly, perhaps different classes of ppl tend to join different sports? If you look at individual sports, they tend to require more $$$ to sustain? $$$ plays a huge role in gaining an extra edge in this “meritocratic” society.


  4. Posted March 8, 2006 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    It’s a very interesting subject. As said at the end of the podcast, it would be interesting to find out. There must be some research done on things like this?

    I’ve posted some thoughts about it on my parenting site,

  5. Posted March 8, 2006 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Mel: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re both an accomplished footballer and swimmer, so you’re definitely an exception to the case (over-achiever?). Research always starts with observation, and in no way is this in any shape or form, a hypothesis. It’s still ugly, since this currently exists as a raw brainstorm. I observed this phenomena via a discussion with a few undergraduate lecturers. There are definitely other independent variables involved. You mentioned two: Social Class and Economic Power, both of which tie well together. If a survey were conducted with lecturers around my campus, we could get a clearer picture if indeed swimmers do generally better than say footballers. I expect a likelihood of overgeneralization. That said there are definitely exceptions to the case… in Asia it is probably different, since the education system back home is more rigid than over here. There have also been many social studies on Asia (Collectivist) vs America (Individualist) societies. Thus, the type of society might negate this effect.

    Oyvind: It’s interesting in a thought-provoking way. :)

  6. Mike
    Posted March 8, 2006 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I am living proof that such is NOT the case.I have 6 college degrees ,a 183 IQ (genius for anyone who doesn’t know),I was one of the chosen students who discovered the material for the first fully artificial heart called The Jarvek 7 after DR. Robert jarvek. When I was in high school my teachers would always tell my mom that they thought i was bored in thier class because I was always the first one done and always got everything right.There’s lots more but you get the point.Yet,I could not swim if my life depended on it.

  7. Posted March 9, 2006 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    This is good news to me, I was going to start swimming again next week. XD If anything, it keeps you in shape and is proven to be one of the best forms of exercise in terms of even toning of the whole body.

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  1. […] Kevin Lim posts and podcasts about this on his site: Are swimmers betters students? One pf the professors at his university (University of Buffalo) says that swimmers show up on every class. Football players and basketball players don’t. […]