The short answer is no! Swimming does not make you taller. It is one of the myths that have been doing the rounds for a long time.
Even though most of the swimmers are naturally tall and we have seen it in the Olympics, it does not in any way imply that swimming helped them grow this tall.
You may argue that all the swimmers are tall, consider the case of the Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who is 6 feet 4 inches.
We do agree that most of the tall athletes belong to swimming, but that is just a mere coincidence as being tall helps you perform better in the swimming sport. So we find most of the tall athletes in this sport.
And we all know about the strict training that Michael Phelps goes through, so one cannot just say that only because of his height he has achieved this feat.
We feel sorry for bursting your myth, but we do have proper research showing that swimming does not make you taller.
Read along to know why swimming does not make you taller and how being tall enhances your swimming performance. Let’s get started!
Does swimming make you taller?
As we have already discussed, the answer to this question is a no! We all have been through this. When we were young, we all wanted to be tall, and everyone suggested joining swimming classes. We did so in the hope of becoming tall, but some of us still could not grow tall. But now, you do not need to blame yourself, because there is no scientific evidence that proves swimming makes you taller.
When a person swims, the spine of the swimmer experiences no force of gravity, which makes the swimmer appear elongated in the water. The spine appears elongated and may result in a temporary increase in the height of the person, but this increase is temporary and not permanent.
So if you are 18-20, which generally is the age when your height stops growing and looking for swimming as a means to increase your height, we will like to burst your bubble that it does not. It may add up to be a great addition to your fitness routine and will help you tone your body, but it will not help you grow taller.
We all know that there are a lot of health benefits linked to swimming like it helps improve your posture, makes the blood circulation in your body better, and improves the cardiovascular function of the body. But it does not make you taller.
It may increase your height temporarily, but that height will be back to its original state. While swimming, the spine gets elongated which results in increasing the height. But this is not long-lasting, and you will come back to your original height shortly.
Why are swimmers so tall?
History has witnessed a lot of tall swimmers like the American swimmer Matt Grevers who stands at a height of 6 feet 9 inches.
There may be a lot of reasons why the swimmers are tall. The Olympic medalists are generally taller and fall in the height category of 6 feet 2 inches to 6 feet 9 inches. Here are some reasons listed below:
Most of the time, the height is generally influenced by the parents and their ancestors. If you have tall parents or tall ancestors, then there is a high probability that you will end up growing tall.
So if you see a tall swimmer, then genetics has a huge role to play in it. You may do a lot of height-increasing exercises still, but it won’t help you as your genetics do not support you for growing tall.
Height helps swimmers to swim faster
Having a longer body helps the swimmer cover large distances in a shorter time. You must have come across the long list of swimmers who are tall and have achieved great success in their swimming careers.
Being tall implies the swimmer has long toes and big hands that help him cover long distances and provide a better streamlining body.
The taller the person, the more probable the chances of winning
You may have seen that most of the time the winners of swimming events are tall guys and girls. They have an added advantage because of their height. They tend to emerge as the winner.
As they have big toes and hands, so they can cut through the water easily, and swim fast through the water at a fast pace.
As we have looked into the reasons why swimmers are so tall, let us now take a look at why tall swimmers have an advantage.
Why do taller swimmers have an advantage?
The American swimmer Matt Grevers, popularly known as the Gentle Giant, has a height of 6 feet 9 inches which is 205 centimeters. He has been awarded 6 Olympic gold medals.
Who can forget about Michel Phelps, the swimming legend of the 21st century and an inspiration for most aspiring swimmers around the world. He stands at a height of 6 feet 4 inches and holds the world record for winning 23 Olympic gold medals.
To give you a better understanding of how tall swimmers have been successful in their life, here is a list of tall swimmers that have won various swimming titles in their careers:
- Matt Grevers (6’9”) has won 6 Olympic gold medals
- Matt Biondi (6’7”) is the recipient of 8 gold Olympic medals
- The female swimmer Missy Franklin stands at a height of 6 feet 2 inches and has won 6 Olympic gold medals in her swimming career.
- Tom Jager (6’4”) has won 5 Olympic gold medals till now.
- Sarah Sjostrom (6’1”), the Swedish female swimmer, was the first female to win Olympic gold for swimming for her country.
- Michael Phelps at a height of 6 feet 4 inches, has won 23 Olympic gold medals. He is the record holder of winning the maximum gold medals in any sport at the Olympics.
These swimmers were naturally excellent at their sport not because of their heights only but because they combined their physical abilities with their hard work and determination to achieve success.
Let us now look at some of the advantages these people have because of their tall figures.
They have big limbs helping them cut through the water easily
We all know from our common sense that a tall person covers distance very fast when compared to a short person. The big limbs help them transcend through the water effortlessly and allow their movement to be very swift. The various techniques used while swimming also can be done effortlessly by a tall person.
The long limbs can keep up against the drag very well, and act like oars for the swimmer. When they are long, then they have the potential to pull water very well which leads to an increase in the velocity. Also, the stroke rate is lower in the tall swimmers, and they do not have any loss of speed. So, overall, the stroke becomes much more efficient.
Big feet also add to the advantage as big feet act like big fins that give a wide surface area to act against the drag of the water.
Also, the tall figure helps them to make swift movements across the swimming pool. The long torso and long limbs give them a sufficiently wider surface area which helps the swimmer overcome the resistance of the water and move forward effortlessly compared to a shorter swimmer.
The length of the body adds to the advantage
They require less energy to swim through as compared to a shorter person. A taller and lengthier frame helps them cover distances in a short period when compared to a shorter person.
A shorter person has to swim very hard against the currents and needs to put in added energy to complete a race when compared to a taller person.
A taller person has a big frame which helps him to cut against the water easily. Also, he requires lesser energy when compared to a shorter person. To perform each stroke, the taller person requires less energy compared to a shorter person. It helps them save energy for the long run, as well as makes their transition through the water quite quickly.
So if you compare two people who have worked equally hard on perfecting their techniques of swimming, the taller person will have an edge of winning.
Easily put, when a person is moving fast in the water, then he needs to have a longer body to keep the water drag to the minimum possible value.
The water drag is the resistance offered by the water to a person swimming in it. So a taller person experiences the minimum drag when compared to a shorter person
They can perform the techniques in a better and more efficient manner
Except for the breaststroke, where the shorter people have more advantage, the tall people have added advantage when it comes to other techniques involved in swimming like the butterfly stroke, freestyle, and backstroke.
But one must not be disheartened by the fact that he or she is short because you can always enhance your skills through continuous practice and hard work.
We know that we have seen a lot of tall swimmers win Olympic medals and bring laurels to their countries. You must remember that these tall swimmers have been through rigorous training and that genetics has played a huge role in determining their success. But we must also remember that through hard work no goal is impossible to achieve.
How tall should swimmers be?
In 2016, it was found that the average height of Olympic swimmers was 6 feet 2 inches, which is more than the average height of a normal man. While for the women, it was found that the average height of a female Olympic swimmer was 5 feet 9 inches which is also more than the average height of a woman by 5 inches.
Also at the 2016 Olympics, it was found that many shorter swimmers also competed in the sport. In the 2016 Olympics, history has witnessed swimming legends who belonged to the height category of 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 8 inches.
The height statistics for the shortest male participant was 5 feet 6 inches which is 168 cm, while the female participant stood at 5 feet 1 inch which is 155 cm.
They have been successful in their swimming careers as well. So it is just a myth that you need to be tall for becoming a successful swimmer.
Swimming may not make you tall but, it will give you those strong and lean muscles. It is a low-impact sport that helps tone the whole body and works with each muscle group of the body. It is a great exercise. While swimming on long routes, the height factor diminishes, and the real hard work is tested.
So even if you are on the short side, you do not need to be disheartened. You have to perfect the swimming techniques they will help you reach the Olympic medals. As well as pay strict attention to your diet and lifestyle as that also contributes a lot to developing your physical structure.
The Bottom Line
You must not be disheartened by this fact. We all have also been witness to swimmers who were of the average male height but reached great success with their sheer dedication and hard work.
You need to build a great physique and be excellent at swimming techniques to excel in swimming. Who knows, maybe you may become the new Olympic medalist and bring laurels to your country.
Remember, if you want to increase your height, then there are many other aspects linked to it. Like you may want to alter your diet and speak with a dietician to design a nutritious diet for you that will help you grow.
Also, you may want to add stretching and exercises that help you increase your height. So this is not the end, and your short height or any other physical weakness must not deter you from pursuing your passions. So with full focus and determination, get started on building your dreams into a success.