Children who learn how to swim at a young age are reaching many developmental milestones earlier than the norm.
Researchers from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research surveyed parents of 7000 under-fives from Australia, New Zealand and the US over three years.
A further 180 children aged 3, 4 and 5 years have been involved in intensive testing, making it the world's most comprehensive study into early-years swimming.
Lead researcher Professor Robyn Jorgensen says the study shows young children who participate in early-years swimming achieve a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population.
"Many of these skills are those that help young children into the transition into formal learning contexts such as pre-school or school.
"The research also found significant differences between the swimming cohort and non-swimmers regardless of socio-economic background.
"While the two higher socio-economic groups performed better than the lower two in testing, the four SES groups all performed better than the normal population.
The researchers also found there were no gender differences between the research cohort and the normal population.
As well as achieving physical milestones faster, children also scored significantly better in visual-motor skills such as cutting paper, colouring in and drawing lines and shapes, and many mathematically-related tasks. Their oral expression was also better as well as in the general areas of literacy and numeracy.
"Many of these skills are highly valuable in other learning environments and will be of considerable benefit for young children as they transition into pre-schools and school."