It is curious that, while swimming comes natural to most animals, men have to learn to swim. Such animals as dogs, horses, deer, cattle, can swim when they first go into the water; but a man will sink unless he has learnt the art.
And, when we consider how necessary it may be to most people at some time in their lives to know how to swim, it is still more curious that comparatively few people take the trouble to learn the art. It is even said that many sailors and fishermen, who are in daily risk of drowning, are not swimmers.
Most landsmen who are not swimmers, have rather a dread of water, which perhaps deters them from learning to swim. Indeed there is a story of a man who said he would never go into the water until he had learnt to swim!
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But those who have learnt swimming in their childhood, get so used to being in deep water that they have no fear of it at all. So all boys, and girls too, should be taught swimming; for it is an art much more easily learnt in childhood than in a later life.
A person who can swim has several advantages over his non- swimming fellows. The most important, of course, is that he can save himself from drowning in cases of boat accidents and shipwrecks.
Those “who go down to the sea in ships” and people who go out boating on rivers and lakes, always run the risk of accidents from storms or collisions; and many have lost their lives by drowning who could have saved themselves without much difficulty, if they had been able to swim. So everyone ought to know how to swim.
Then a swimmer can often save the lives of others as well as his own. It is terrible to have to watch a person drowning and be unable to save him, because one cannot swim oneself; and many lives are lost because no swimmer is near to rescue them from drowning.
Apart from enabling one to preserve and save life, swimming is a very healthy and pleasant amusement, and an excellent form of exercise. In fact, medical men say it is the most perfect form of physical exercise, as it brings into play all the muscles of the body.