Dartmouth Swim Test as Graduation Requirement

Dartmouth Swim Test, Swim Test at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College Swimming Test

Dartmouth graduates must be able to swim.

Dartmouth College requires that students complete a 50-yard swim test in order to graduate. The test is not timed and it can be completed at any point during a student’s four years in Hanover, New Hampshire (most students complete the swim test after their first-year trips before the start of freshman year classes). And Dartmouth is not alone in mandating that students complete a swim test in order to graduate — Cornell University, Columbia University, Bryn Mawr College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, and Swarthmore College are other elite universities with such a requirement. To many, this requirement strikes them as strange. But we salute all of these institutions for requiring their graduates to complete a 50-yard swim test; swimming is a vital life skill. Heck, in the Jewish faith, teaching a child to swim is one of the three most important things to teach a child: it’s in “The Talmud.”

Dartmouth College Graduates Must Swim

In an excellent piece in “The Dartmouth” by Baily Deeter, Caitlyn McGovern, and Jennifer Lee entitled “Into the Deep End: Dartmouth’s Swim Test,” the issue is raised of whether or not mandating a swim test is unfair. In fact, eliminating the swim test requirement was recently presented before the Dartmouth faculty but the faculty rightly voted to keep the test. Some argue that because low-income students, who often happen to be underrepresented minorities, in many instances do not have access to swimming pools growing up, the test places an unfair burden on the very kinds of students colleges like Dartmouth are trying to attract. But while we absolutely understand that not all students growing up have had the opportunity to learn to swim, Dartmouth has a pool. Two pools in fact. And students have four years to learn to traverse two laps of either pool. They can even take swim lessons, offered by the college. What better time to learn?

A Salute to Dartmouth College for Their Swim Test

Swimming is a vital life skill. Just a few years ago, a Dartmouth student drowned in the Connecticut River, which touches the school’s campus. Dartmouth is located in the stunning wilderness and there may be times — both in college and in life after college — when one’s life depends on knowing how to swim. Hopefully not. But why not prepare for such a situation? Ivy Coach salutes Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, MIT, Notre Dame, and Swarthmore for not deeming the swim test a relic of a bygone era. Knowing how to swim is as vital now as ever before. Knowing how to swim should be a graduation requirement at each and every university in America.

 
 

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