Monday, 2 Oct 2023

History of Olympic Swimming

It is thought that swimming goes back to 2500BC. The Ancient Egyptians it we said to have to swum in the Nile, and the Greeks and Romans used to swim as part of their training.

Swimming began during the middle of the 19th century and the first swimming organisation was established in 1837.

As with all sports it became competitive and the first swimming championship was held in 1846 in Australia.  The race was held each year after that and was a good indication of how successful swimming would be.

The first modern Olympic Games in 1896 included swimming and it has remained a part of the Olympics ever since then.  Together with swimming, other summer Olympic sports that have been kept are athletics, artistic gymnastics and fencing.

How Swimming Progressed

During the early years, only male swimmers were eligible to enter and it was in 1912 that women were given the opportunity to enter during the Stockholm Games.  Women however could only compete in two of the events, 100m freestyle and the 4 by 100m freestyle relay.

During the first modern Olympic Games some unique events were included such as 100m freestyle for sailors and only members of the Greek navy could take part.  Up until 1908 the Olympic Games took place in open waters and the swimmers were subject to the waves and weather.

After World War II technology improved, although not to the level we have today in real slots NZ. Facilities also improved, and this led to improved training techniques which led to quicker swimming times which were much better compared to those events that took place in open waters.

Both male and female swimmers wore body suits, which meant an increased resistance, and it meant slower speeds.  As swimming progressed the swimwear became more hydrodynamic and swimwear was made from Lycra, which meant a reduction in drag, which resulted in reduced lap times.

Swimming pools used for competitions also saw a change during this time, which meant a change from outdoor to indoor tournaments.  Drainage of pools and marking of lanes and guidelines for pool depths helped to bring about a higher standard of competition.

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New Era

This new era in competitive swimming laid the foundations for superstar swimmers like Mark Spitz who won seven gold medals for the USA in 1972 at the Munich Games.

At the Seoul Games in 1988 Kristin Otto, from East Germany was the first woman to win six gold medals in one game, which set a new standard for prospective Olympic swimmers.

Another household name, Michael Phelps, broke Spitz’s record in Beijing in 2008 and won eight gold medals. Phelps became the winner of 28 medals over four Olympic Games.