Aquatic experiences including structured instructional programs for young children have become extremely popular over the past two decades despite opposition and controversy. Surprisingly, this popularity and controversy have not given rise to extensive or sustained research efforts by exercise scientists or aquatic professionals. Most information available for assessing risks and benefits of aquatic experiences for young children must be gleaned from ancillary sources in medical and educational literature. This paper reviews important issues and questions in the medical, developmental, and pedagogical areas of early childhood aquatics. The need for basic and applied research efforts by teams of exercise scientists from physiologic, psychologic, medical, and aquatic backgrounds is apparent.
Stephen Langendorfer is with the School of PERD, 162 Memorial Gym Annex Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.