Does Swimming Really Make You Taller? Here’s What Science Says

Alex Ortiz
By Alex Ortiz 18 Min Read
18 Min Read
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Ever stood by the pool and wondered, “Hey, can swimming make me taller?” Well, you’re not alone. A lot of folks in the swimming community have asked this question. I mean, it kinda makes sense, right? Elite female swimmers are about 7% taller than the average American lady, and the elite male swimmers? They’re towering at about 9% taller than the typical American guy. These numbers might make you scratch your head and think, “Maybe there’s a link between swimming and height!” [source]

Now, here’s the thing. Even though it feels like you’ve grown an inch or two after a good swim, it’s just a little magic trick the water’s playing on you. Picture this: when you’re in the water, gravity isn’t pushing down on your spine like it usually does on land. So, you might feel and look a bit taller. But, spoiler alert, this taller-you effect is just for the moment. Once you’re back on land and gravity does its thing, you’re back to your regular height. So, no, swimming won’t actually add inches to your height.

Alright, even if swimming doesn’t make us taller, it’s still pretty awesome. Let me tell you why. Swimming is like a full-package workout for your entire body. From your toes to your head, every part gets involved. It’s not just about moving your arms and legs; it’s a synchronized dance that works out all your muscles. And hey, even if it doesn’t make us tower over our friends, it sure does wonders for our health and mood.

Can Swimming Increase Your Height?

Swimming cannot increase your height in the long term or make you taller.

Swimming can help to stretch your body and improve your overall flexibility, which may promote better posture and a host of other health benefits.

Additionally, swimming is an excellent exercise for your overall health and well-being, which can also contribute to better overall growth.

There are many reasons it is a common misconception that swimming can make you taller.

Here are some facts related to swimming and height.

1. Top Elite Swimmers Are Mostly Tall

So you’ve been swimming and wondering if those pool sessions could give you an extra inch or two in height. Well, let’s clear the water and get straight to the point.

Swimming and Your Height: The Reality

Nope, swimming won’t make you taller. I know, a bit of a bummer, right? But, swimming does some fantastic things for your body:

  • It stretches you out, making you feel all limber and loose.
  • It helps with improving that posture of yours, so you stand tall and proud.
  • And don’t get me started on how it’s just an all-around fantastic workout for your health!

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “But all those Olympic swimmers are so tall!” Well, let’s explore that.

Why Do Swimmers Seem Taller? Some Fun Facts

1. The Giants of the Pool In the world of competitive swimming, height is like a secret weapon. Many top-notch swimmers are skyscrapers! Why? Being tall gives them a head start.

2. Benefits of Being Tall in the Water Tall swimmers have some cool perks:

  • Big Feet: Imagine having flippers for feet! Larger feet can give stronger kicks.
  • Long Arms: Think of them as built-in oars. Longer arms mean they can pull themselves through the water more effectively.
  • Big Hands: It’s like having paddles. Bigger hands can pull more water, giving them an extra speed boost.

3. Cutting Through Like a Hot Knife Through Butter Their tall and lean frames are like the perfect boat design. They slice through water smoothly and with less effort.

4. Nature’s Advantage, Not the Pool’s Gift We often see those tall champs and think, “Wow, swimming must’ve made them tall!” But in reality, they were already tall. Swimming didn’t make them grow; it just made them fast!

2. Successful Child Swimmers Tend To Be Tall

Have you noticed that young champs in the pool often seem to be taller than their buddies? Just like their adult counterparts, child swimmers who are tall get a lot of attention.

🥇 Why Tall Child Swimmers Shine It’s not just about being able to see over the crowd! Being tall gives them a leg (or two) up in competitions. These tall kiddos often bag more medals, not because swimming stretched them out, but because they already had those long limbs to start with. Remember, it’s not the pool that’s making them tall; they’re just naturally blessed with height!

3. Our Height Varies Through The Day

Ever felt you’re a bit taller in the morning? No, it’s not your imagination! When you rise and shine, you’re actually at your tallest. Here’s why: As you sleep, your spine takes a break from the constant pull of gravity. It gets a chance to stretch out and relax. So, by morning, you’ve “grown” a bit.

As the Day Goes By… But, as you move around during the day, gravity starts doing its thing again. It pushes down on your spine, making you return to your usual height by the evening.

🏊‍♀️ Morning Swim Confusion Now, imagine you dive into the pool first thing after waking up. You feel great, stretched out, and on top of the world. After that refreshing swim, if you decide to check your height, you might think, “Whoa! Swimming made me taller!” But, sorry to burst the bubble, it was just your body’s natural morning stretch.

Are Swimmers Usually Tall?

When you watch elite swimmers glide through the water, it sure seems like they tower over everyone. And you’re onto something! Women at the top of the swimming game are about 7% taller than the average American gal. As for the men? They stand tall, being about 9% taller than the typical American dude.

🏅 The Edge in the Water Every inch matters when you’re competing at the highest level. Even tiny time differences can decide who gets the gold and who doesn’t. That’s why many successful swimmers are on the taller side.

But wait! Don’t let this discourage you. Swimming history has its legends who weren’t the tallest in the pool. Ever heard of Janet Evans or Brad Cooper? They swam their way to the top, proving that height isn’t the only key to success. Curious about other not-so-tall swimming champs? Check out my deep dive in the article, “How Tall Are The Shortest Olympic Swimmers?”

Can I Be A Good Swimmer If I Am Short?

You don’t need to be tall to make a splash in the pool. Being short doesn’t mean you’re left behind in the wake. In fact, many swimmers who aren’t exactly giants have been champions and even Olympians.

📏 What’s “Short” Anyway? In the world of medicine, being “short” means you’re more than two standard deviations below the average height for folks your age and gender. But hey, being on the shorter side isn’t a swimming sentence.

🌊 It’s All in the Technique Remember, swimming isn’t just about height. It’s about mastering the techniques, practicing, and having the passion. While taller swimmers might rule in short sprints, the playing field levels out in longer events (like those over 400m).

Wondering which event might be your best bet if you’re on the shorter side? Dive into my article, “What Is The Best Event For A Short Swimmer?” for some insights.

Swimming Tips For Short Swimmers

So you might not be the tallest person in the pool, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a big splash. Let’s get you some cool tricks to swim like a pro, no matter your height.

1. Extend Your Reach

🏊‍♂️ The Art of Extension Who said you need to be a giant to swim big? Even if you’re not touching the 6-foot mark, you can still “swim tall”. How? By stretching out those arms and making your body as long and streamlined as possible.

🔄 Rotating Right When doing the freestyle, imagine reaching for a prize at the pool’s far end. This mindset not only maximizes your arm’s reach but also gets your hips and shoulders turning just right. The result? A smoother, slipperier swim that lets you glide through the water like a seal!

📹 Visual Learning Need a clear picture? Check out this awesome demonstration from the Total Immersion Swim Method. But remember, it’s all about extending underwater. That’s where the magic happens.

2. Swim Narrow & Streamline

Ever tried sliding a thread through a needle’s eye? That’s the kind of focus and precision you need. Picture yourself trying to swim through the tiniest space. It sounds odd, but this imagery will make you stay super straight and narrow in the water.

🚀 The Benefits of Being Slim in the Swim When you manage to keep yourself long, straight, and streamlined, you cut through the water like a hot knife through butter. Faster, efficient, and ready to rival any tall swimmer in the next lane!

Small Tips, Big Impact

So there you go, my shorter friends! With these tips, you’ll be swimming efficiently, and perhaps even outpacing some of your taller competitors. Always remember, it’s not just about size; it’s about skill, technique, and heart. Dive in and show the world that height’s just a number when you have the right moves. Happy swimming! 🌊🏊‍♂️

3. Less Legs & More Hip Action

Okay, let’s get real. Your kicks might not be as powerful as someone with longer legs, but guess what? Kicking is only about 15% of our total swimming power. So, focus on making that 15% count!

🔄 Roll with the Hips Instead of getting hung up on leg power, shift your focus to the hips. Your hip rotation can become your secret weapon. A good roll can boost your speed and make you glide through water like you’ve got fins.

📹 Watch and Learn There’s an amazing video that shows a swimmer using both arm extension and hip action to cruise through the water. If you fast-forward to the 1-minute mark, you’ll see some neat underwater shots that can really inspire you.

4. Perfect Your Turns

The good news? Being shorter might just give you an edge when it comes to tumble turns. Think about it: You can whip around faster than longer swimmers, saving precious time in races.

🏊‍♂️ Turn Technique Matters The tumble turn is all about flipping over quickly when you reach the pool’s end, setting you up for a fast return. It’s like a swift U-turn in the water. The better you get at it, the more time you can shave off your laps.

🔍 The Small Advantage Practice makes perfect. By refining your turning technique, you might just find that this is where you have a sneaky advantage over taller swimmers. So get in there and practice those turns!

5. Wall Pushes & Underwater Strokes

🏊 Off the Wall Let’s talk about starting off strong. The moment you push off the wall can really set the pace for your lap. Use it to your advantage!

🐬 Dolphin Kick Magic Combine that strong push with a powerful underwater dolphin kick, and you’re on your way to faster times. Think of it like a car’s acceleration right after a stop.

🎥 Video Guide There’s a fantastic video that shows the art of the perfect tumble turn. It’s a game changer and will give you all the insights to master this skill.

6. Fine-Tuning Your Swimming Techniques

🌀 Technique is King Want to know a secret? Perfect technique can beat natural advantage. It’s not always about the size of the swimmer, but how they swim!

📚 The Total Immersion Swim Method I can’t recommend the Total Immersion Swim Method enough. Trust me, it’s a game-changer. It taught me how to navigate the water with what I have and do it gracefully. It’s not about being the tallest but about being the smartest in the water.

7. Going Beyond the Pool: Dryland Exercises

💪 Train On Land You might be thinking, “I want to be a better swimmer, not a weightlifter!” But hear me out. Training outside the water can boost your strength and endurance for when you dive back in.

🏋️‍♂️ Resistance Bands and Paddles One of my all-time favourite tools is the resistance band with paddles. They target the muscles we use when swimming and help us build strength even when we’re not in the water.

📹 Watch and Train I’ve got a video that breaks down some awesome dryland exercises with resistance bands. Check it out, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

📖 Further Reading Hungry for more swimming wisdom? I’ve got an article filled with training tips and guidelines on how long you should train to start seeing results. Dive in and soak up all the knowledge!

Final Thoughts

Swimming is a unique sport that brings together grace, technique, and power, transcending physical attributes like height. It’s a reminder that in the water, it’s not the size that matters, but the rhythm of the heart and the skill of the swimmer.

For those of us on the shorter side, the swimming world might seem tailored for taller competitors. Yet, with every stroke, turn, and kick, we defy the norm, proving that determination, technique, and passion are the real determinants of success.

Being shorter may present certain challenges, but it also offers unique advantages. From potentially quicker tumble turns to a potentially more streamlined form, being a shorter swimmer can be just as effective as being a tall one. It’s all about leveraging what you have.

In the end, the true beauty of swimming is that it welcomes everyone. The pool doesn’t discriminate based on height; it invites everyone to dive in, learn, adapt, and ultimately, flourish.

Remember, the water doesn’t measure your height. It measures the depth of your passion and the breadth of your determination. So, let the world see what you’ve got, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t because of your height.

Dive in, swim hard, and let your heart guide you through the waves. Happy strokes! 🌊🏊‍♂️🏊‍♀️

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does swimming make you taller?

A: No, swimming does not make you taller. Height is primarily determined by genetics and the growth plates in your bones. Swimming or any other exercise cannot lengthen your bones or increase your height.

Q: Can swimming improve posture and give the illusion of being taller?

A: Yes, swimming can help improve posture by strengthening your back muscles and core. Good posture can make you appear taller, but it does not actually increase your height.

Q: Are there any exercises that can increase height?

A: No, there are no exercises that can increase your height after the growth plates in your bones have closed. The height you reach is largely determined by genetic factors.

Q: Are there any benefits of swimming for overall health?

A: Yes, swimming has numerous benefits for overall health. It is a low-impact exercise that helps improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility. It also helps in burning calories and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Q: Can swimming help in maintaining a good posture?

A: Yes, swimming can help in maintaining a good posture. It engages the muscles in your back, shoulders, and core, which are important for maintaining proper posture both in and out of the water.

Q: Are there any other factors that can affect height?

A: Yes, apart from genetics, factors like nutrition, sleep, and overall health can affect height during the growth years. It is important to have a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and lead a healthy lifestyle to support healthy growth and development.

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