I came across this article and found it intriguing… I’d never heard of the swimming requirement as my school – San Diego State University – did not have this requirement. Imagine having to show that you can swim in order to graduate? I wondered why such a requirement was ever even implemented.
The article goes on to give a few different reasons as to how swim programs came about. One reason according to Ken Torrey, director of physical education programs at New York City’s Columbia University says that some colleges developed swim programs in the early 20th Century because “there was probably more attention at that time due to drowning, be it in war or just people going into oceans and lakes. There are still horrific drowning incidents, although I think they were more prevalent back then,”
The requirements of the swimming test vary from school to school, but generally have freshmen swim between 25 - 75 yards, using a combination of strokes. Freshmen who fail the test must enroll in a beginning swim class and show proficiency before they graduate.
Growing up swimming along the coast of southern California, I guess I hardly ever hear of anyone not knowing how to swim. So note to those non-swimmers applying to colleges…. make sure you know if your choice school(s) will require you to dive into a sink or swim test!