Swimming: History, Strokes, & Facts


KEN KING Swimming: History, Strokes, & Facts Dec 12, 2021
Swimming: History, Strokes, & Facts

The concept of propelling oneself through water is nothing new. In fact, humans have had a natural attraction to water for thousands for years, which has often involved the act of swimming. If you’ve ever wondered about the history of this particular activity and how it evolved into what it is today, keep reading for a brief history of swimming.

Swimming in Ancient Times

Rock paintings thousands of years old discovered in ancient Egypt depict the act of swimming. In ancient China, swimming was often referred to as “tide play” and usually enjoyed in the spring and autumn seasons. Swimming was especially important in ancient Greece and Rome for training involving physical education, combat arts, and similar activities.

Swimming in Early Modern Times

Because swimming was typically done without wearing clothing, it fell out of fashion during a large portion of the early modern era until the 1800s. The first indoor swimming pool debuted in England in 1828 and was open to the public, which played a role in renewing the interest in swimming for exercise and enjoyment.

Swimming Strokes

In 1587, English scholar Everard Digby wrote what’s believed to be the first book describing swimming strokes, such as the breaststroke. The main purpose of the book was to reduce instances of drowning. Incidentally, Digby wrote a follow-up book claiming humans had the ability to swim better than fish. In 1868, English swimmer John Arthur Trudgen observed South American natives swimming while on a trip. He described the hand-over stroke motions he saw and officially presented what was named “the Trudgen” to the public in the 1870s. For hundreds of years prior to the 20th century, the breaststroke was the most common swimming stroke. In 1902, an Australian named Richard Cavill changed this when he popularized the freestyle approach to swimming.

Competitive Swimming

Swimming for competitive purposes didn’t become a widely adopted practice until the early 1800s. The first modern swimming competition took place in 1844, and an official governing body for swimming, the Amateur Swimming Association, was established in 1890. In 1896, swimming was one of the events in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens.

Setting Records

In 1875, Matthew Webb became the first person to successfully swim across the English Channel. American Olympic swimming champion Gertrude Caroline Ederle became the first woman to accomplish the same goal in 1926. Competitive athlete and Tarzan movie star Johnny Weissmuller was the first person to set official swimming freestyle records by winning the 100-meter freestyle event at the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games. Today, Michael Phelps is well known for the many swimming records he shattered by winning a record 23 Olympic gold medals.

Swimming Today

Swimming, for both casual and competitive purposes, is more popular than ever today thanks to the ability to easily enjoy this activity right in your own custom outdoor pool. Plus, there are many variations with pool design in terms of size and shape that present many opportunities to casually or competitively swim.

If you’re looking for the perfect way to have fun while boosting physical fitness, swimming can be exactly what you need. As an award-winning swimming pool builder San Diego families and businesses have trusted for more than four decades, San Diego Pools can create a custom pool for you that offers a great way to exercise as well as a place to relax and get away from it all. Give us a call today at 888-707-7786.