A for Athlete





Swimming is the movement by humans or animals through water, usually without artificial assistance. Swimming is an activity that can be both useful and recreational. Its primary uses are bathing, cooling, travel, fishing, escape, and sport.

The history of swimming is easier to understand tham most other sports as it happens without much equipment to speak of. Individuals can take to the waters without a ton of swimming gear.

Place with the most access to water were the first to adapt to swimming. History did not have the spreading of the sport as many other sports had encountered because it was basically already available.

The famous Roman general, Julius Caesar, was a good swimmer. Roman gladiators used swimming as part of their regular physical training.

Life saving concepts and techniques began to form in swimming for a few hundred years and around the 18th and 19th century. Then the sport began to evolve into a competition and beyond simply life safety.

Some schools put swimming as a natural part of all life education. Therefore, they began to teach swimming in schools, not just as a life safety course but as an extracurricular activity. Schools and Universities began to adopt these practices and set up clubs and swim teams. Competitions began to arise around the mid 1800s. England was the first to modernize the sport and incorporate and indoor swimming pool with a swim team. They began to formulate new swimming styles including the sidestroke.

Johnny Weissmuller completed his ten year career by never losing a race and winning five Olympic medals.

Sailors needed to know how to swim because a sinking ship could be a matter of life or death for them.

In the early part of the 17th century, Japan (also known as JPN) Flag of Japan indroduced swimming as part of its educational program. But because the country was "closed" to the other parts of the world until 1867, swimming as a sport did not develop outside of that country.

By 1840, six swimming pools were open in London, England (also known as GBR) Flag of the United Kingdom. Swimming began to develop as a sport. The National Swimming Society in England begand holding swimming contests in those pools. At that time, the only swimming strokes used were ones similar to today's side stroke and breast stroke.

Around 1845, a group of North American Indians travelled to England to swim competitively. The Indian swimmers shocked the English swimmers with their unusual overhand stroke, and they were even moreshocked when the Indians beat them. The Indian stroke style and swimmers were much faster than the English. In the late 1800s, the English began using an overhand stoke, similar to the ones the Indians used. This is probably the beginning of competitive swimming as we know it today.

In 1896, the modern Olympics began in Athens, Greece (also known as GRE) Flag of Greece. Swimming was a major event in the schedule. The breastroke was the only racing stroke used, and soon after, swimmers began discovering better, faster ways to swim.

In 1912, women began swimming inthe Olympics, and slowly the number of stokes and distances and events began to grow.

Competitive swimming[]


Swimming scenes from 2008 Olympics.

The goal of competitive swimming is to be the fastest over a given distance. Competitive swimming became popular in the nineteenth century, and comprises 34 individual events - 17 male events and 17 female events. Swimming is an event at the Summer Olympic Games, where male and female athletes compete in 13 of the recognized events each. Olympic events are held in a 50 meter pool. Competitive swimming's international governing body is FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation), the International Swimming Federation.


Fueled by Water - Rose Bowl Aquatics

The four competitive strokes are the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle (front crawl). While "freestyle" and "front crawl" are often used interchangeably, freestyle is the more common name and is used in almost all competitive, club-swimming or international competitions.Swimmers generally choose to swim front crawl in a freestyle event since it is the fastest and easiest stroke. Disqualification will occur if the stroke is not swum correctly, for example if the swimmer does not touch the wall with two hands during breaststroke or butterfly.

These strokes can be swum individually or together in an individual medley (IM). The IM order is: 1) butterfly, 2) backstroke, 3) breaststroke, and 4) freestyle. There are two types of relays: medley and freestyle. The medley relay order is: 1) backstroke, 2) breaststroke, 3) butterfly, and 4) freestyle. Each of the four swimmers in the relay swims a predetermined distance, dependent on the overall length of the relay. The three relay lengths are 200 meters or yards, 400 meters or yards, and 800 meters or yards (which is only swum freestyle). In a 50 meter pool, each swimmer swims one length for the 200 relay, two lengths for the 400 relay, and four lengths for the 800 relay. In a 25 meter or yard pool, each swimmer swims two lengths for the 200 relay, four lengths for the 400 relay, and eight lengths for the 800 relay.There have also been 100 yard relays that have been done by 8 and under swimmers, but is very rare except in summer recreation leagues. Many full-size competition pools in the United States have a length of 50 meters and a width of 25 yards (the Olympic pool size, allowing both short course (25 m or 25 yd pool) and long course (50 m pool) races to be held.

There are several types of judges: a starter sends the swimmers off the blocks and may also call a false-start if a swimmer leaves the block before the starter sends them; finish judges make sure the swimmers touch the wall with the appropriate number of hands (one hand for freestyle and backstroke, two for breaststroke and butterfly with the swimmer's hands touching the wall at the same time, not one after another) turn judges check that the swimmers' turns are within rules; stroke judges check the swimmers' strokes; time keepers time the swims; and the referee along with the starter and the officials make sure everything is running smoothly. If an official catches a swimmer breaking a rule concerning the stroke he or she is swimming, that swimmer is said to be disqualified (commonly referred to as a "DQ") and the swim is not considered valid.

There are two types of meets. 'A' meets are official meets that allow qualification for a special or bigger meet if the qualifying time is met. Scores are kept to see how each team did at the end of the season. 'B' meets are used as practice meets, where the normal, or prime stroke is swum if not yet qualified. Scores are not kept.

In the USA and the UK, communities may sponsor competitive swimming leagues for children and teenagers, made up of swim teams. These leagues for the most part adhere to recognized swimming rules, swim the standard strokes, but swim shorter lengths as events in swim meets. These leagues are usually active in the warmer months, and are not directly associated with a national or world swim organization. However, swimmers who begin their competitive swimming experience on such a local swim team may go on to join a nationally-governed team.

In Australia such competition is usually conducted under the auspices of a club affiliated with the State Association which in turn is affiliated with Swimming Australia, the FINA accredited body. This provides a direct pathway to top level competition for those capable of taking it while still providing a more relaxed environment for those whose main intent is to have fun swimming competitively.

Masters swimming is a club sport for adults who have a competitive spirit. Swimming at this level differs from competitive club swimming. In swim meets masters are allowed to compete in the 50, 100 and 200 of backstroke, fly and breaststroke and the 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1650 of freestyle. The age groups are organized into 5 year increments (Masters, 1). “Swimming has continually been identified as the best way to exercise. Stress reduction, weight control, cardiovascular fitness, reduced cholesterol, muscle tone and endurance are all positively influenced by exercise. Masters Swimmers swear by it (Masters, 1).” Shoulder injuries are the most common because of the repetitive motion of freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke. Knee injuries often occur from breaststroke due to the unnatural kick. Incorrect stroke technique can also lead to injuries.



Dawn Fraser, Libby Trickett (formerly Libby Lenton), Kristin Otto, Ian Thorpe, Tamás Darnyi, Krisztina Egerszegi, András Hargitay, Mary Meagher, Michael Phelps, Stephanie Rice, Eamon Sullivan, Susie O'Neill, Janet Evans, Petria Thomas, Alexander Popov, Vladimir Salnikov, Kieran Perkins, Grant Hackett, Pieter van den Hoogenband, Michael Klim, Ian Crocker, Federica Pellegrini, Leisel Jones, Kieran Perkins, Inge de Bruijn, Natalie Coughlin, Lisa Curry-Kenny, Larsen Jensen, Brendan Hansen, Jack Groselle, Mark Spitz, Mark Foster, Simon Burnett, Peter Mankoc, and Aaron Piersol.


Changes to the sport[]

Swimming times have dropped over the years due to better training techniques and to new developments.

In the first four Olympics competitions were not held in pools, but in open water (1896- The Mediterranean, 1900- The Seine River, 1904- an artificial lake, 1906- The Mediterranean). The 1904 Olympics' freestyle race was the only one ever measured at 100 yards, instead of the usual 100 meters. A 100 meter pool was built for the 1908 Olympics and sat in the center of the main stadium's track and field oval. The 1912 Olympics, held in the Stockholm harbour, marked the beginning of electronic timing.

Male swimmers wore full body suits until the 1940s, which caused more drag in the water than their modern swim-wear counterparts. Competition suits now include engineered fabric and designs to reduce swimmers' drag in the water and prevent athlete fatigue. Also, over the years, pool designs have lessened the drag. Some design considerations allow for the reduction of swimming resistance, making the pool faster. Namely, proper pool depth, elimination of currents, increased lane width, energy absorbing racing lane lines and gutters, and the use of other innovative hydraulic, acoustic and illumination designs.

The 1924 Olympics were the first to use the standard 50 meter pool with marked lanes. In the freestyle, swimmers originally dove from the pool walls, but diving blocks were incorporated at the 1936 Summer Olympics. The flip-turn was developed by the 1950s. In addition, a split stroke in the breaststroke start and turns have been added to help speed up the stroke.

The butterfly stroke, which consists of out-of-water recovery with even symmetry in body movements, is most suited to rough water swimming. For example, in a record-setting example of endurance swimming, Vicki Keith crossed the rough waters of Lake Ontario using butterfly. Most recreational swimming takes place in swimming pools, and calm natural waters (sea, lakes, rivers), therefore front crawl is suitable.

Swimming is also a professional sport. Companies such as Speedo, TYR Sports, Arena and Nike sponsor swimmers who are at the international level. Cash awards are also given at many of the major competitions for breaking records.Template:Fact





Avoid the use of recreational drugs, performance enhancing drugs and steroids. See: Drugs

Swimming as exercise[]

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Because the density of the human body is very similar to that of water, the body is supported by the water and less stress is therefore placed on joints and bones. Swimming is frequently used as an exercise in rehabilitation after injuries or for those with disabilities.

Resistance swimming is one form of swimming exercise. It is done either for training purposes, to hold the swimmer in place for stroke analysis, or to enable swimming in a confined space for athletic or therapeutic reasons. Resistance swimming can be done either against a stream of moving water (often termed a swimming machine) or by holding the swimmer stationary with elastic attachments.

Swimming is primarily an aerobic exercise due to the long exercise time, requiring a constant oxygen supply to the muscles, except for short sprints where the muscles work anaerobically. As with most aerobic exercise swimming is believed to reduce the harmful effects of stress. Swimming can improve posture and develop a strong lean physique, often called a "swimmer's build." Muscle development depends upon the stroke and distances trained, but avid swimmers typically have well-developed triceps, upper backs, deltoids, and as well as quadriceps.


Main article: swimsuit

Most standard clothing is impractical and unsafe for swimming. In historical cultures, it has been common to swim nude, but in those with taboos against nudity, specialized swimwear has been the norm. Most cultures today expect swimsuits to be worn for public swimming.

Modern men's swimsuits are usually shorts also known as jammers, either skintight or loose fitting, covering only the upper legs or not at all. Almost always, the upper body is left uncovered. In some cultures, custom and/or laws have required tops for public swimming.

Modern women's swimsuits are generally skintight, either two pieces covering only the breasts and pelvic region, or a single piece covering them both plus the torso between them. Skirts are uncommon and short when included, but have been required and sometimes as much as full length in some cultures.

Competitive swimwear seeks to improve upon bare human skin for a speed advantage. For extra speed a swimmer wears a body suit, which has rubber or plastic bumps that break up the water close to the body and provides a small amount of thrust--just barely enough to help a swimmer swim faster. For swimming in cold water, wetsuits provide thermal insulation.

Swim caps keep the body streamlined

Swim History[]

Swimming goes back to the prehistoric times. Books written from 2000 to 1500 BC including The Bible have references to swimming. It mostly was used as a way of cleansing. Ancient cave drawing in Egypt (also known as EGY) Flag of Egypt showed humans swimming in the sea.

Ancient pools and baths, often reserved for the elite, used the pools and swimming as a relaxation and cleaning tubs.

Swimming was also used in battle. The Greeks were oftne regarded as solid swimmers and at the battle of Salamis many Persians drowned due to their inability to swim while the Greeks prevailed due to ther extensive training and swimming practice.

Competitive swimming came about in the 1800s in Europe. Swimming was included in the first modern Olympics in 1896.

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