is movement through water
, usually without artificial assistance. Swimming
is an activity that can be both useful and recreational. Its
primary uses are bathing
Swimming has been known since prehistoric times; the earliest
record of swimming dates back to Stone Age
paintings from around 7,000 years ago. Written references date from
2000 BC. Some of the earliest references include the Gilgamesh
, the Iliad
, the Bible
(Ezekiel 47:5, Acts 27:42, Isaiah 25:11), Beowulf
, and other sagas. In 1538, Nikolaus Wynmann,
professor of languages,
wrote the first swimming book, The Swimmer or A Dialogue on the
Art of Swimming
(Der Schwimmer oder ein Zwiegespräch über
). Competitive swimming in Europe
started around 1800, mostly using breaststroke
. In 1873 John Arthur Trudgen
introduced the trudgen
to Western swimming
competitions, after copying the front
used by Native Americans
. Due to
a British disregard for splashing, Trudgen employed a scissor kick
instead of the front crawl
. Swimming was part of the first modern
Olympic games in 1896 in
In 1902 Richard Cavill introduced the
to the Western world. In
1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de
, was formed. Butterfly
was developed in the 1930s and
was at first a variant of breaststroke
until it was accepted as a separate style in 1952.
As recreation and exercise
The most common purposes for swimming are recreation, exercise, and
athletic training. Recreational swimming is a good way to relax,
while enjoying a full-body workout.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Because the density of
the human body is very similar to that of water, the water supports
the body 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.
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 in a swimming machine
holding the swimmer stationary with elastic attachments.
Swimming is primarily an aerobic
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
Some occupations require the workers to swim. For example, abalone
divers or pearl
swim and dive to obtain an economic benefit, as do spear fishermen
Swimming is used to rescue other swimmers in distress. In the USA,
most cities and states have trained lifeguards, such as the
Los Angeles City Lifeguards
, deployed at pools and
beaches. There are a number of specialized swimming styles
especially for rescue purposes (see List of swimming styles
techniques are studied by lifeguards
members of the Coast Guard
. The training
for these techniques has also evolved into competitions such as
Swimming is also used in marine
to observe plants and animals in their natural habitat.
Other sciences use swimming, for example Konrad Lorenz
swam with geese
as part of his studies of animal behavior
Swimming also has military
Military swimming is usually done by special forces
, such as Navy SEALS
. Swimming is used to approach a
location, gather intelligence, sabotage or combat, and to depart a
location. This may also include airborne insertion into water or
exiting a submarine
while it is submerged.
Due to regular exposure to large bodies of water, all recruits in
the United States Navy
, Marine Corps
, and Coast Guard
are required to
complete basic swimming or water survival training.
Swimming is also a professional sport. Companies such as
Sports, Arena and Nike sponsor swimmers who are at the international
Cash awards are also given at many of the major
competitions for breaking records.
Professional swimmers may also earn a living as entertainers,
performing in water ballets.
As a competitive sport
The aquatic sport of swimming
amongst participants to be the fastest over a given distance under
self propulsion.The different events include 50, 100, 200,
breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, the 50, 100, 200, 400, 800
and 1500 free and the 100, 200, and 400 Individual Medley (IM,
consisting of all strokes).Swimming has been part of the modern
since inception in 1896.
Along with the other aquatic disciplines of diving
and water polo
, the sport is
governed by the Fédération Internationale de
A style is also known as a stroke. "Stroke" can also refer to a
single completion of the sequence of body movements repeated while
swimming in the given style.
Several swimming styles
suitable for recreational swimming; many recreational swimmers
prefer a style that keeps their head out of the water and has an
underwater arm recovery. Breaststroke
, head up front crawl
are the most common strokes utilized in recreational
swimming. The out-of-water arm recovery of freestyle or butterfly
gives rise to better exploitation of the difference in resistance
between air and water and thus leads to higher speed.
It is possible to swim by moving only legs without arms or only
arms without legs; such strokes may be used for special purposes,
for training or exercise, or by amputees
Swimming is a healthy activity that has minimal impact on the
joints. A swimmer benefits from a low risk of injury compared with
many other sports. Nevertheless, there are some health risks with
swimming, including the following:
Most recorded drownings fall into one of three categories.
- Panic where the inexperienced swimmer or
non swimmer becomes mentally overwhelmed by the circumstances of
- Exhaustion where the person is unable
to sustain effort to swim or tread water.
- Hypothermia where the person loses
critical core temperature, leading to unconsciousness or heart
Less common : though acknowledged as potential risk to near
drowning victims is
- Hyperventilation in a bid to
extend underwater breath-hold times lowers blood carbon dioxide
resulting in suppression of the urge to breathe and consequent loss
of consciousness towards the end of the dive, see shallow water blackout for the
- Other adverse effects of prolonged immersion in water.
- Exostosis is an abnormal bony
overgrowth narrowing the ear canal due to
frequent, long-term splashing or filling of cold water into the ear
canal. (Also known as Surfer's
- Chlorine inhalation in relation to
swimming pools etc*
Adverse encounters with aquatic life.
Since rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are filled with numerous forms
of aquatic life, all swimmers should be aware of the potential
risks they face in terms of these environments.
In order of probability : minor injury though to death may arise as
result of the following encounters.
Organizations publish safety guidelines to help swimmers avoid
A Styrofoam flotation aid can help
children learn to swim.
Children are often given swimming lessons, which serve to develop
swimming technique and confidence. Children generally do not swim
independently until 4 years of age.
Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, the
curriculum for the fifth grade states
that all children should learn how to swim as well as how to handle
emergencies near water.
Most commonly, children are expected
to be able to swim 200 metres
) – of which at least 50 metres
) on their back
– after first falling into deep water and getting their head under
water. Even though about 95 percent of Swedish school children know
how to swim, drowning remains the third most common cause of death
the Netherlands and Belgium swimming
lessons under school time (schoolzwemmen, school swimming)
are supported by the government.
Most schools provide
swimming lessons. There is a long tradition of swimming lessons in
the Netherlands and Belgium, the Dutch
translation for the breaststroke
swimming style is even
(schoolstroke). The children learn a variant of
the breaststroke, which is technically not entirely correct.
In many places, swimming lessons are provided by local swimming
pools, both those run by the local authority and by private leisure
companies. Many schools also include swimming lessons into their
Physical Education curricula
either in the schools' own pool, or in the nearest public
UK, the "Top-ups scheme" calls for school children who
cannot swim by the age of 11 to receive intensive daily
These children who have not reached Great Britain's
National Curriculum standard of swimming 25 metres by the time they
leave primary school will be given a half-hour lesson every day for
two weeks during term-time.
Canada and Mexico there has
been a call for swimming to be included in the public school
Clothing and equipment
Standard everyday clothing is usually impractical for swimming and
may even be unsafe. Most cultures today expect swimsuits
to be worn for public swimming.
Modern men's swimsuits are usually briefs
, either skintight (jammers) or loose
fitting (swim trunks or board shorts
covering only the upper legs or not at all. Usually, 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 (see bikini
), or a single piece covering these areas and
the torso between them. Skirts are uncommon, and are usually short
when included, but in some cultures they have been required even to
the point of a full length skirt being necessary.
improve upon bare human skin in order to obtain 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.
Swimming events have been selected as a main motif in numerous
collectors' coins. One of the recent samples is the €10 Greek
, minted in 2003 to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics
. On the obverse of
this coin a woman swimmer is depicted, preparing to dive from the
starting platform, while in the background another woman athlete is
just about to dive into the water in a scene from an Archaic
- River and Lake Swimming Association's Safety
- Insurance Information Institute's Pool Safety
- Safe Sea Swimming
- Bender N. & Hirt N., Did Turkish Van cats lose their
fear of water? Forschungspraktikum Evolutionsökologie,
University of Bern, Bern 2002.
- Maniscalco F., Il nuoto nel mondo greco romano, Naples
- Mehl H., Antike Schwimmkunst, Munchen 1927.
- Schuster G., Smits W. & Ullal J., Thinkers of the
Jungle. Tandem Verlag 2008.