HISTORY OF SWIMMING
Swimming has been known since prehistoric times. Drawings from the Stone Age were found in "the cave of swimmers" near Wadi Sora (or Sura) in the southwestern part of Egypt. Written references date from 2000 B.C., including Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Bible (Ezekiel 47:5, Acts 27:42, Isaiah 25:11), Beowulf, and other sagas. In 1538 Nicolas Wynman, German professor of languages, wrote the first swimming book, "Colymbetes". Competitive swimming in Europe started around 1800, mostly using breaststroke. The front crawl, then called the trudgen, was introduced in 1873 by John Arthur Trudgen, copying it from Native Americans. Swimming was part of the first modern ...view middle of the document...
However, as swimming was done in a state of undress, it became less popular as society became more conservative, and it was opposed by the church at the end of the middle ages. For example, in the 16th century, a German court document in the Vechta prohibited the naked public swimming of children. Leonardo da Vinci made early sketches of lifebelts.
In 1603 the first national swimming organization was established in Japan. TEmperor Go-Yozei of Japan declared that school children should swim.
In 1696, the French author Thevenot wrote "The Art of Swimming", describing a breaststroke very similar to the modern breaststroke. This book was translated into English and became the standard reference of swimming for many years to come.
In 1708, the first known lifesaving group "Chinkiang Association for the Saving of Life" was established in China. In 1796 a (still existing) swimming club was founded in Upsala, Sweden. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the invention of the swimming fins at the age of ten, in 1716.
More lifesaving groups were established in 1767 (1768?) in Amsterdam by the Dutch, 1772 in Copenhagen, and in 1774 by Great Britain. In 1768 a humane society was established in the United States.
The Pre-Olympic Era to 1896
In 1804 the lifebelt was invented by W. H. Mallison (America?), the device being known at that time as the "Seaman’s Friend". However, the lifebelts took up valuable space on ships, and the United States Navy was worried about the devices being used by sailors to desert.
The first German swimming club was founded in 1837 in Berlin. A journal mentions "swimming skates" in France, which may be an early version of a surfboard.
The first indoor swimming pool was built in England in 1862. An Amateur Swimming Association of Great Britain was organized in 1880 with more than 300 members. The main swimming styles were the breaststroke and the recently developed sidestroke. In the sidestroke, the swimmer lies on one side. Initially, the arms were brought forward under water, but this was soon modified to bring the arm forward over water to reduce resistance and to improve the speed, resulting in an overarm sidestroke.
The Modern Olympic Era after 1896
The Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens, a male-only competition (see also Swimming at the 1896 Summer Olympics). Six events were planned, but only four events were actually contested: 100 m, 500 m, and 1200 m freestyle and 100 m for sailors. The first gold medal was won by Alfred Hajos of Hungary in 1:22.20 for the 100m freestyle. Hajos was also victorious in the 1200 m event, and was unable to compete in the 500 m, which was won by Austrian Paul Neumann. Another swimming competition of 100m for sailors included three Greek sailors in Bay of Zea near Piraeus, starting from a rowing boat.
In 1908, the world swimming association Federation Internationale de Natation de Amateur (FINA) was formed.
Women were first allowed to swim in the Olympic Games in 1912 in...