Who doesn't love to plunge into the cold waters of a swimming pool to beat the scorching heat of a summer day! Swimming, definitely, is one of the best ways to relax after a long of work. It also serves as an excellent means of exercise. It helps in burning the excess amount of calories and increases the flexibility of one’s body. No doubt, swimming is simply awesome, but learning about the history of swimming is even more amazing and interesting. The earliest records of swimming take us 7,000 years back, wherein the cave walls from the Stone Age depict paintings of swimming. Read on further to know all about the history, origin and background of swimming.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Swimming
The earliest record of swimming can be traced back to 7,000 years back. Stone Age paintings clearly indicate that swimming was practiced at that time also. Many historic books from 2000 BC give written accounts of swimming, which include Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Bible (Ezekiel 47:5, Isaiah 25:11, Acts 27:42) and Beowulf. However, the style of swimming practiced at that time is still unknown. Apparently, the act of swimming became popular in the Middle Ages. The first swimming book titled ‘Colymbetes’ was written by Nicholas Wynman, a German professor of languages in 1538.
The Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports states that swimming was required of knights. Also, Romans built swimming pools at all places they conquered. Swimming pools were regarded as a place to exercise and as rostrums for their social gatherings. In 1603, the first swimming organization was established in Japan, as Emperor Go-Yozei declared that all schoolchildren should learn swimming. With the turn of the 19th century, organized swimming started emerging. Various swimming associations were formed, which organized swimming competitions against each other.
During this period, countries like US, England, France and Germany made records of setting up swimming clubs. In Germany, the first swimming club was founded in 1837, in Berlin. The first indoor swimming pool was built in England, in 1862. In fact, the English are believed to be the first modern society to consider swimming as a sport. Mathew Webb’s swim across the English Channel further increased the sport’s popularity. A new governing body named the Amateur Swimming Association of Great Britain was formed in 1886, which further fostered the popularity of swimming competitions.
Towards the end of 19th century, organized swimming underwent yet another progress, with the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, in 1896. Initially, Olympic Games had 100-m and 1500-m freestyle swimming competitions, for men only. All the events were held in open water. There were only four swimming events, out of which three were free-style. With the popularity of the sport, more strokes like butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, etc. were added to the list. The 1912 Olympic Games saw women making their debut as swimmers. Eventually, the sport developed into a mainstream event by the 20th century. Indoor pools and public outdoor pools were constructed all across the towns.
Since then, various records have been set up by great swimmers of all times. During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Mark Spitz won seven gold medals. Shortly thereafter, the first world swimming championship was held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, by the FINA. In 1991, Kristin Otto from East Germany won six gold medals, the most ever won by a woman at the world championship in Seoul. Thereafter, swimming clubs became popular with their image of being a recreational activity. Presently, the Olympic Games have 32 swimming races, 16 each for men and women. It also holds 22 other swimming events for men and women with disabilities.