To meet MIT’s General Institute Requirements, many students attending first-year orientation will hop in the pool for a swim test, a 100-yard swim with no time requirement. I've heard the reason for the 100-yard distance is because the nearby Charles River is 200 yards across, so a person would only need to swim at most half that distance to reach the shore.
You might be thinking, "So why does MIT have a swim test?"
Carrie Moore, director of phys ed for MIT at the time of the post in 2014, says the test indeed has a purpose:
“It’s is a self-survival skill. Research shows that most drownings occur in families where parents don’t know how to swim,” she explains. “Swimming also opens up several opportunities for students to take advantage of other water sports at MIT.”
And MIT isn't the only school which requires students to pass a swim test. Here are some other notables:
- Cornell University
- University of Notre Dame
- Columbia University
- Williams College
- Bryn Mawr
- Hamilton College