Swimming is one of the four disciplines of the Olympic sport of Aquatics.

Did you know?

Underwater Swimming featured at the Paris 1900 Games. Competitors earned points for the length of time and distance they were underwater.
There will be 53 sets of lane ropes used during the swimming competition.
The ‘crawl’ technique used in Freestyle Swimming was developed by a British Swimming instructor called J. Arthur Trudgeon. He based it on a native American style of Swimming that he had discovered during a trip to South America in the 1870s.
Johnny Weissmuller, the first man to swim 100 metres in under a minute, was just as famous out of the pool. He helped save the lives of 11 people when a boat capsized on Lake Michigan, and also played the role of Tarzan in films.
The first official tie in Olympic Swimming history came in Los Angeles 1984, when American teammates Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer proved inseparable in the 100m Freestyle event.
The swimming pool for the London 1908 Olympic Games was built inside the athletics track.

Key facts

Venue: Aquatics Centre
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Saturday 4 August; 10km Marathon: Thursday 9 and Friday 10 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 34
Athletes: 850

Swimming: a history of the sport

Prehistoric man learnt to swim in order to cross rivers and lakes – we know this because cave paintings from the Stone Age depicting swimmers have been found in Egypt. Swimming was also referred to in Greek mythology.

The first organised swimming races did not take place until the 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain was created.

There were still no official rules or standards when Aquatics featured in the programme for the first modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896, Paris 1900 and St Louis 1904.

The Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) was formed during the London 1908 Olympic Games competition to act as a governing body for the sport.

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Swimming at the Games

Swimming has featured in every edition of the Games since 1896. Early Olympic events were conducted in freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was added in 1904.

At the first three modern Olympic Games, Swimming took place in open water – in seas, rivers and lakes. A pool was used for the first time at the London 1908 Games, where the rules were finally standardised.

In the 1940s, breaststrokers discovered they could go much faster by bringing both arms overhead together. This was soon banned in the breaststroke, but became the butterfly stroke, which is now the fourth stroke used in competitive swimming.

The newest Aquatics event in the Games is the Marathon 10km, which took place for the first time in Beijing in 2008.

How the competition runs

Traditional Swimming races take place over distances ranging from 50 metres to 1,500m. Unless it is a Freestyle event, competitors have to use a particular swimming stroke: Breaststroke, Butterfly or Backstroke. There are also Medley events which combine all four strokes.

Olympic races take place in a 50m-long pool divided into 10 lanes, with only the middle eight lanes used by swimmers. The swimmer who touches the pool wall first at the end of the race is the winner. The Olympic programme includes both individual and team men’s and women’s events.

The Marathon 10km races are swum outside in areas of open water such as the sea, a lake or a river, and competitors usually swim circuits around buoys positioned in the water.

Jargon buster

Medley: A combination event in which a swimmer or relay team swims separate legs of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.
Negative split: A race strategy in which a competitor swims the second half of a race faster than the first half.
Tumble turn: An underwater roll at the end of a lap that allows a swimmer to push off from the end of the pool with his feet.
Turn judge: An official at each end of the lane responsible for ensuring a swimmer turns correctly and, in the longer races, for displaying lap cards to inform a swimmer how many laps remain.

Get involved

To get started, head down to your local pool, you can search for one at Active Places (England only). If you want to know more about clubs, facilities and coaching schemes in your area, contact your national federation. Visit British Swimming, Federation Internationale de Natation, Scottish Swimming, Welsh Amateur Swimming Association, and Swim Ulster.

For advice on swim fitness programmes visit the Swimfit website.

Swimming pool

~ by superbowlnyc on February 20, 2011.

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