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The aquatic sport of swimming involves competition among participants to be the fastest over a given distance under self propulsion. Today people believe it is the best sport in the world. The different events include 25(8&U), 50, 100, 200, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, the 25(8&U), 50, 100, 200, 400, 500, 800, 1000, 1500, and 1650 free and the 100, 200, and 400 individual medley (IM, consisting of all strokes). The order of the individual medley is butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. In the 100 IM you swim a 25 (one length) of each stroke, 200- 50 (1 length in long course and 2 lengths in short course) 400- 100 (2 lengths in long course and 4 lengths in short course) of each stroke in the IM.Swimming has been part of the modern Olympic Games since inception in 1896. Along with the other aquatic disciplines of diving, synchronised swimming and water polo, the sport is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation .


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 crawl used by Native Americans. Due to a British disregard for splashing, 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 Athensmarker. In 1902 Richard Cavill introduced the front crawl to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de Natation , 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.


Butterfly (a.k.a. fly) is a stroke in which the swimmer brings both hands over their head close to the water, breathing forward, "Dolphin kicking" (undulating) with both feet together in sequence, two kicks per arm stroke. All walls must be touched with two hands at the same time and the swimmer will be disqualified if his/her arms do not clear the water at the same time.

Backstroke (a.k.a. back) is a stroke which is similar to the front crawl, except on your back. Kicking by alternating both feet, pulling each arm one at a time, and looking straight up. At walls, flip turns are permitted(the swimmer is to turn on to his/her front before performing the turn), and a two-hand touch is not necessary.

Breaststroke (a.k.a. breast) is a stroke where the swimmer kicks legs out (much like a frog, but more whip like), scoops the water in towards the chest with his or her hands and then thrusts the hands out in front just before the kick is repeated. One underwater "pull-out" is permitted after every wall, with a streamline glide, one butterfly kick, and one kick to the surface. Each wall requires a two-hand (simultaneous) touch.

Freestyle (a.k.a. free) is a not a defined stroke as the others are. However, as swimmers are free to choose any stroke they wish, most select the Front Crawl, as it is both the fastest and most efficient. The front crawl is a stroke where the swimmer breathes to the side, kicks by alternating both legs, and pulls with each arm at different times. Flip turns are legal. Many meets also include free relays, in which four team members each swim an equal distance of freestyle; when one member touches the wall, the next can dive off the block.

IM stands for individual medley, and includes, in this order: fly, back, breast, free. Open turns are required in the switch from one stroke to another, but flip turns can be made during back and free. Each stroke must be completed before moving on to the next stroke. 25:100 is the ratio for the amount swam for each stroke. 25 yards stroke to each 100 total. Many meets also include medley relays, in which four team members each swim one stroke, in the order of back, breast, fly, free. Other IM events are a 200, and 400 which is the same except that in a 200 it is 1 length (in long course) or 2 lengths (in short course) of each stroke and 400 is 2 lengths (in long course) or 4 lengths (in short course) of each stroke. In the 200 and 400 IM flip turns are allowed off the wall in backstroke to backstroke and freestyle to freestyle.

An open-turn is a touch and go turn. Fly and breast must touch with two hands, but can push off with one.

In a flipturn, the swimmer swims to the wall, tucks, flips, and pushes off. This is only legal in back and free. A backwards flip (suicide turn) is also allowed between Backstroke and Breaststroke in the Individual Medley.In this turn, the swimmer must touch the wall on their back and come out on their front.


The goal of competitive swimming is to be have the fastest time to complete a given distance. Competitive swimming became popular in the nineteenth century, and comprises 36 individual events – 18 male events and 18 female events, however the IOC only recognizes 34 events – 17 male 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(long course). Competitive swimming's international governing body is FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation), the International Swimming Federation..

Competition pools

The majority of competitions are held either in a long course pool such as that at the olympic games(50 m) or short course pool as was used in the manchester world championships (25 m or 25 yd)They have blocks from which the competitior can dive in and at major competitions will have time pads to electronically record the times as soon as touched with enough pressure to stop the clock.(this comes in handy on races such as the phelps 100 fly at bejing)


There are several types of officials:
  • A starter sends the swimmers off the blocks and may call a false start if a swimmer leaves the block before the starter sends them;
  • Finish judges determine the order of finish and make sure the swimmers finish in accordance with the rules (two hands simultaneously for breaststroke and butterfly, on the back for backstroke, etc.)
  • Turn judges check that the swimmers' turns are within rules;
  • Stroke judges check the swimmers' strokes;
  • Timekeepers time the swimmers' swims;
  • The referee takes overall responsibility for running the race and makes the final decisions as to who wins the competition.

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.

Meet Setup

A meet consists of a number of events classified by age, gender, distance, and stroke. For example, Event 1: Girls 8&U 25 fly. Each event has a certain amount of heats. A heat is a group of people who swim at the same time, on per lane, yet compete against all entries in that event. Most meets do one stroke at one time. All fly, back, breast, free, IM, and relay. Example: Fly:25, 50, 100, 200. Back: 25, 50, 100, 200. Breast: 25, 50, 100, 200. Free: 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000, 1500, 1650. IM: 100, 200, 400. Relays: 100, 200, 400, 800. A heat sheet tells a swimmer what he or she will swim, what heat, and what lane. A psych sheet tells the entry position of the swimmer before the start of the meet. Larger meets, which are not national or international competitions, typically cover a three day period; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday: distance events(400 free and up and the 400 IM). Saturday: Half of the events and, most likely, free relays. Sunday: the remainder of the events and the other relays. In typical meets swimmers are placed after swimming once in their heat, timed finals. In championship meets (international, national, state, regionals, district, and collegiate) and some other meets, the swimmers compete in preliminaries, sometimes semi-finals, and are placed after finals. Sometimes swimmers can enter time trials at a meet, to obtain new official time, but time trials results are not included in the official placing of the particular event at the meet.


"Team colors"
would be referred to as the "team suit and cap"

The suit covers the skin for modesty 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.

Swim Cap
A swim cap(a.k.a. cap)keeps the swimmers hair out of the way to reduce drag. During practice, many female swimmers wear caps with different sayings, patterns or both. Latex Caps is made of latex which sticks to anything. If you are having trouble putting on this type of cap or removing it, try putting water on the cap, place your hands on you forehead with your cap between your fingers and forehead, then have someone pull the back of the cap over your head. This is easy to tell by both how it looks, and how it feels.Silicone Caps This cap is very stretchy, yet is snug. If you are having trouble putting this cap on, place both hands in the cap, stretch the cap out, place your head down in the front of the cap, and pull it back, over your head, and pull your hands out. Tuck any loose hair back in. Lycra Cap This is a new type of cap that does not pull on your hair like latex caps. However, it is not as snug as silicone.

Goggles keep water and chlorine out of swimmers eyes. New goggles can help those that need glasses. If you have contacts, you should find ones that are a more dependable to prevent protein build-up in your eyes (including starts).

Brands include: Arena, Speedo, TYR, Nike, Dolfin(There are other brands of suits)

Regular practice and competition-swimwear


Men's most used practice swimwear include speedos (briefs) and jammers. As of New Year's day 2010, men are only allowed to wear suits from waist to above the knees. This law was enacted after the controversy in the Beijing Olympics and Rome World Championships.


Women wear one piece suits with different backs for competition, though there are two-piece suits that can be worn to compete as well. Backs vary mainly in strap thickness and geometric design Most common styles include: racerback, axel back, corset, diamondback, and butterfly-back. There are also different style lengths: three quarter length (reaches the knees), full body (down to ankles), regular length (shoulders to hips), and bikini style (2 piece). Also as of New Year's 2010, in competition, women are only allowed to wear suits that do not go past the knees or shoulders.

Drag suits

Drag suits are used for increasing the resistance against the swimmer in order to help adjust the swimmer to drag. This way when swimmers switch back normal practice suits they swim faster as a result of feeling less resistance. (This is not normally worn during competition)

Drag shorts

Drag shorts like drag suits are worn in training and are also used to increase drag so that when taken off in racing it feels easier and you have less resistance. Other forms of drag wear include nylons, and t-shirts; the point is to increase friction in the water to build strength during training, and increase speed once drag items are removed for competition. It is also very common for swimmers to shave areas of exposed skin, to reduce friction in the water.(Drag wear is not normally worn during competition)

Open water swimming

Open water swimming is swimming outside of a regular pool, usually in a lake, or sometimes ocean.

Changes to the sport

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

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 Olympicsmarker and sat in the center of the main stadium's track and field oval. The 1912 Olympics, held in the Stockholm harbor, 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 swimwear counterparts did. Competition suits now include engineered fabric and designs to reduce swimmers' drag in the water and prevent athlete fatigue. In addition, 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 Summer Olympics were the first to use the standard 50 meter pool with marked lanes. In the freestyle, swimmers originally dived from the pool walls, but diving blocks were incorporated at the 1936 Summer Olympics. The flip turn was developed by the 1950s and goggles were first used in the 1976 Olympics.

There were also changes in the late 20th century in terms of technique. Breaststrokers are now allowed to dip their head completely under water, which allowed for a longer stroke and faster time. However, the breaststrokers must bring their heads up at the completion of each cycle. In addition, a split stroke in the breaststroke start and turns has been added to help speed up the stroke. There have been some other changes added recently as well. Now off the flip turns and starts breaststrokers are allowed 1 butterfly kick to help increase their speed. Backstrokers are now allowed to turn on their stomachs before the wall in order to perform a "flip-turn". Previously, they had to reach and flip backwards this turn is now only used in backstroke to breaststroke in an IM.

Records in swimming

The foundation of FINA in 1908 signalled the commencement of recording the first official world records in swimming. At that time records could be established in any swimming pool of length not less than 25 yards, and records were also accepted for intermediate distance split times from longer distance events. The Danish swimmer Ranghild Hveger established forty-two records between 1936 and 1942 due to these rules.

Records in events such as 300 yd, 300 m, 1000 yd and 1000 m freestyle, 400 m backstroke, 400 m and 500 m breaststroke were no longer ratified from 1948. A further removal of the 500 yd and 500 m freestyle, 150 m backstroke and 3×100 m medley relay from the record listings occurred in 1952.

In 1952 the national federations of the United States and Japan proposed at the FINA Congress the separation of records achieved in long course and short course pools, however it was four more years for action to come into effect with Congress deciding to retain only records held in 50 m pools as the official world record listings.

By 1969 there were thirty-one events in which FINA recognised official world records – 16 for men, 15 for women – closely resembling the event schedule that was in use at the Olympic Games.

The increase in accuracy and reliability of electronic timing equipment led to the introduction of hundredths of a second to the time records from 21 August 1972.

Records in short course (25 m) pools began to be officially approved as "short course world records" from 3 March 1991. Prior to this "record" times were not officially recognised, but were regarded a "world best time" (WBT). From 31 October 1994 records in 50 m backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly records were added to the official record listings.

FINA currently recognises world records in the following events for both men and women.

Sports nutrition

In swimming it is recommended that you eat healthy. Many competitive swimmers eat carbs and protein before their race. swimming is an example of an endurance sport that requires a large amount of carbohydrates in order to maintain stamina throughout a swimming event. Carbohydrates are recommended for highly demanding sports due to the complete sources of energy that they provide. Carbohydrates promote muscle stamina and strength because the breakdown product of carbohydrate-glucose is a primary source of energy for muscles during exercise. Commonly the nutrient and energy needs of swimmers can be compromised by their intense schedules. Time should be allowed for a light meal before swimming, and time for a well-balanced generous meal should be allotted after the workout. Additionally, healthy snacking can at times, be more efficient in fueling the body than a main meal. Healthy snacking ideas include: low fat yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, crackers, oatmeal and raisins, granola, and cereal. Like all aerobic sports, swimmers need to be sure they remain hydrated and drink an adequate amount of water during training and competitions.

See also


External links

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