History of Swimming

Archaeological and other evidence shows swimming to have been practiced as early as 2500 BCE in Egypt and thereafter in Assyrian, Greek, and Roman civilizations. However, it is not before the 19th century that it became an organised sport.

An Ancient Discipline

Swimming is referred in Greek mythology showing that it existed very early in history. Moreover, cave paintings from the Stone Age that were found in Egypt portray swimmers.

Swimming as A New Sport

Swimming was practised but not by the mass until the early 19th century. This is when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain decided to organise competitions. The most early professional swimmers used the breaststroke, or a form of it.

Discovering the Crawl

In the late 1880s, Frederick Cavill, an Englishman, travelled to the South Seas, where he saw the natives performing a crawl with a flutter kick. Cavill later settled in Australia, where he taught that stroke. Later it became the famous Australian crawl.

Olympic History

Swimming has featured on the programme of the Games since 1896. The very first Olympic events were freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was added to the Olympic games in 1904.

In the 1940s, breaststrokers realised that they could go faster by bringing both arms forward over their heads. This practice was immediately forbidden in breaststroke. However, it gave birth to another discipline, butterfly. The new practise had its first official appearance at the 1956 Games in Melbourne. This style is now one of the four strokes used in competition.

Women’s swimming was introduced in the Olympic games in 1912 at the Stockholm Games. Since then, it has been part of every edition of the Games. The men’s and women’s programmes are almost identical, as they contain the same number of events, with only one difference: the freestyle distance is 800 metres for women and 1,500 metres for men.