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Competitive Swimming

Swimming became organized as an amateur sport in the late 19thcent. in several countries. Its popularity increased with thedevelopment and improvement of the swimming pool, and swimming was part of the first modern Olympic Games (1896).Olympic events for women

were included in 1912. Today Olympicswimming events comprise the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 800-(women), and 1,500-meter (men) freestyle races; 200- (men),400-, and 800-meter (women) freestyle relay races; the 400-metermedley (mixed stroke) relay; 100- and 200-meter backstroke,breaststroke, and butterfly races; 200- and 400-meter individualmedley races; springboard and high diving events (see diving, spring board and platform); water polo; and women's synchronized swimming.

Improvements in swimsuits have contributed to fastertimes in many race events,

most controversially in 2009 when polyurethane suits led to many new records at the world championships. Polyurethane were subsequently banned fromcompetition; full-body suits

were also banned.

Among the more successful American Olympic swimmers have been John Weissmuller,

Buster Crabbe, Esther Williams, Don Schollander, Mark Spitz, Matt Biondi, Janet Evans, and Michael Phelps. Amongnon-Olympic distance events, swimming the English Channel has been most publicized.

The first confirmed crossing was made(1875) by Matthew Webb of England; Gertrude Ederle of the United States was the first woman to perform (1926) this feat. Swimminghas never

achieved sustained success as a professional sport.


See F. Oppenheim, The History of Swimming (1970); J. E.Counsilman, The Complete Book of Swimming (1977); D. F.Chambliss, The Making of Olympic Swimmers (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright 2004.
Licensed from Columbia University Press




Swimming is the movement by humans or animals throughwater, usually without artificial

assistance. Swimming is an activitythat can be both useful and recreational. Its primary uses arebathing, cooling, travel, fishing, escape, and sport.

Animals with lungs have an easier time floating than those without.Almost all mammals can

swim by instinct, including bats,kangaroos, moles and sloths. The few exceptions include apes and possibly giraffes and porcupines. Land birds can swim or float for atleast some time.

Ostriches, cassowaries and tortoises can swim.Juvenile penguins drown if they accidentally fall in water since theirdown cover is not suited to water.


Swimming has been known since prehistoric times; the earliestrecord of swimming dates back to Stone Age paintings from around7,000 years ago. Written references date from 2000 BC. Some ofthe earliest references include the Gilgamesh, the Iliad, theOdyssey, the Bible (Ezekiel 47:5, Acts 27:42, Isaiah 25:11),Beowulf, and other sagas. In 1538, Nikolaus Wynmann, aGerman professor of languages, wrote the first swimming book,The Swimmer or A Dialogue on the Art of Swimming ( DerSchwimmer oder ein Zwiegespräch über die Schwimmkunst ).

Competitive swimming in Europe started around 1800, mostlyusing breaststroke. In 1873 John Arthur Trudgen introduced thetrudgen to Western swimming competitions, after copying the

front crawl used by Native Americans.

Due to a British disregard forsplashing, Trudgen employed a scissor kick instead of the front crawl's flutter kick. Swimming was part of the first modern Olympic games in 1896 in Athens. In 1902 Richard Cavill introduced the front crawl

to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimmingassociation, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), was formed.

Butterfly was developed in the 1930s and was at first avariant of breaststroke, until it was

accepted as a separate style in1952.

Date: 2015-12-18; view: 1005

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