A History Lesson in Swimming
Swimming Through History
Obviously you love swimming in your inground pool. But have you ever considered the history of your pool? As a matter of fact, people have been swimming since 2500 BC in Egypt! In the years that followed, swimming as a pastime spread to Assyria, Greece, and Rome. The Greeks held swimming races while Romans built their baths and inground pools separately. It is said that Gaius Maecenas may have built the first heated swimming pool in the 1st century.
In Japan, there is evidence of swimming races as early as the 1st century. By the 17th century, swimming lessons were mandatory in schools. There was a distinct lack of swimming in Europe until the late 17th century, when people swam at sea resorts. By the mid-1800s London had indoor inground pools for recreation and sports.
The first swimming championship was held in Australia in 1846. It was a 440 yard race that was held annually in the years that followed. By 1869, London had founded the first club for enthusiasts of the sport called the Metropolitan Swimming Clubs of London which became the Amateur Swimming Association. The ASA is an organization that still runs today.
Swimming became an internationally recognized sport when it was included in the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896. The 100 mile and 1200 mile events were won by a Hungarian swimmer named Alfréd Hajos
Back in the U.S. there was plenty of history happening with swimming that included a president swimming in the nude and an underground pool. For starters, did you know which founding father invented swim fins? That would be Benjamin Franklin. When he was 11 years old he invented a prototype of the swim fin. Although the pair was made for his hands, the concept would later be applied to footwear.
John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, preferred to deal with the stresses of presidency by going skinny dipping at 5 AM in the Potomac River. As for the underground pool? In 1933, money was raised so a pool could be built for president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as part of his therapy for polio. Then in 1970 a room was built above the pool for press briefings. That room is still used for press gatherings to this day, although the swimming pool has been covered. Of course, they still have their outdoor swimming pool which was built in 1975 by Gerald Ford.
Swimming has such a long and interesting history. Why not hop into your pool and make some history of your own?