The History of Swimming
The earliest proof of mankind swimming goes back 10 000 years ago and is a rock painting inside the “cave of swimmers” found in Egypt, and after that we can find several drawings from different societies as well as a swimming pool found in an Indian palace that dates back to 2800BC. There is also written references to be found in many of the old notorious books such as the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Bible. We can’t prove exactly why people started to swim but it was probably more for practical and safety reasons then it was for recreational and fun.
It is well known that the ancient Greeks practiced swimming in there everyday life but they did not include it in the old Olympics, which suggest that back then it was still more fore a safety reason then for sports. It is said that because the skill they had for the activity they manage to survive the battle of salamis, when their enemies the Persians all died from drowning. Using swimming in warfare is something that we can find evidence of from long back. For example swimming was one of the noble skills that the samurais possessed in Japan, and there is records of them having races that dates back from 36BC which is the earliest competitions known in history.
Also in the middle ages they used swimming as an training method for knights were some of the exercises were done with full armor on. At the end of the middle ages the popularity for swimming started to cool down a bit, this because the society got more and more conservative under the influence from the church which thought that it wasn’t a proper activity. In 1539 a German professor wrote the first book about swimming. It was made to reduce the risk of drowning accidents and contained advice about what aids to use, such as air filled cow bladder and cork belts but there was also instructions which showed step to step how to swim. This made the book popular in addition to save life as an handbook for people to swim as an exercise. In the early 1600s the Japanese started to give swimming lessons to schoolchildren, which was a big breakthrough for getting more people on the track. In 1828 the firs public indoor pool opened in England that meant that the interest for swimming as a competitive sport started to grow rapidly.
The Englishman thought that the traditional breaststroke was superior when it came to racing, but understood that it wasn’t so after a competition was held were two native Americans won against the Englishmen by using a version of front crawl. But because the Englishmen thought that the method was to splashy, barbarian and very “un-European” it took many years until they adapted it. In Sweden 1847 a woman called Nancy Edberg made swimming lessons accessible for both genders, which soon spread to other countries. But even though swimming was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 it took another 16 years until women were aloud to compete. One year after the women were invited in to the Olympics the first elastic swimsuit were produced by the big sweater company Jantzen. This was a full covering swimsuit though and the topless swimsuit for men took until 1935 to get accepted in official competitions.
In 1943 also the women’s swimsuits started to change, the reason for this was funny enough because the US ordered a reduction of fabric by 10% in swimsuits to make up for shortages during wartime. This led to the two-piece swimsuit that shortly after became the bikini. In 1922 a guy called Johnny Weissmuller become a legend among swimmers when he broke the record to swim a 100 meter under 1 minute, a record that he managed to hold for 17 years. This success wasn’t his only one though, during his 10 year career he never lost a single race. In fact he won five Olympic gold medals for swimming & 1 bronze in water polo, 52 US National Championships & held 67 world records. Something to be proud of! During the years new swimming techniques has kept on developing and the interest for swimming has kept on growing. Now days many people even choose to teach their children swimming from when their basically newborn.