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Swimming


Swimming can be dated back to the Stone Age, but did not truly become an organised sport until the early 19th century.

An ancient discipline

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.

Dawn of a sport

Swimming was not widely practised until the early 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain began to hold competitions. Most early swimmers used the breaststroke, or a form of it.

Discovering the crawl

Based on a stroke used by native South Americans, the first version of the crawl featured a scissor kick. In the late 1880s, an Englishman named Frederick Cavill travelled to the South Seas, where he saw the natives performing a crawl with a flutter kick. Cavill settled in Australia, where he taught the stroke that was to become the famous Australian crawl.

Olympic history

Swimming has featured on the programme of all editions of the Games since 1896. The very first Olympic events were freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was added in 1904.

In the 1940s, breaststrokers discovered that they could go faster by bringing both arms forward over their heads. This practice was immediately forbidden in breaststroke, but gave birth to butterfly, whose first official appearance was at the 1956 Games in Melbourne. This style is now one of the four strokes used in competition.

Women’s swimming became Olympic in 1912 at the Stockholm Games. Since then, it has been part of every edition of the Games. The men’s and women’s programmes are almost identical, as they contain the same number of events, with only one difference: the freestyle distance is 800 metres for women and 1,500 metres for men.

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Gallery

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Relive Munich 1972 with swimming superstar Shane Gould

More than 40 years have elapsed since Australia’s Shane Gould lit up the pool at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, winning five medals – three of them gold - before deciding to quit swimming shortly afterwards. In the latest of our “Words of Olympians” series, she looks back on her fleeting but hugely successful Olympic career.  (Still image: Getty Images)

IOC
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Men's And Women's Swimming Finals - Highlights | Day 6

Highlights from Day 6 at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games with the final day and races in the Men's and Women's Swimming eventEvents - Winners:- Women's 50m Freestyle /Rozaliya Nasretdinova (RUS) - Men's 200m Backstroke - Li Guangyuan (CHN)- Women's 100m Butterfly - Liliana Szilagyi (HUN) - Men's 100m Freestyle - Matheus Paulo De Santana (BRA)- Women's 200m Breaststroke - Anastasiya Malyavina (UKR)- Men's 200m Butterfly - Tamas Kenderesi (HUN)- Women's 400m Freestyle - Hannah Moore (USA)- Men's 50m Breaststroke - Nikola Obrovac (CRO)- Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay - China
IOC
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Gold medalist Matheus Paulo de Santana of Brazil after the Men's 100m Freestyle

Nanjing 2014 - Gold medalist Matheus Paulo de Santana of Brazil(L) and Bronze medalist Damian Wierling of Germany react during the awarding ceremony after the Men's 100m Freestyle match at Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, on Aug. 22, 2014.
Xinhua
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Nikola Obrovac of Croatia competes in the Men's 50m Breaststroke Final

Nikola Obrovac (Bottom) of Croatia competes during the Men's 50m Breaststroke final match of swimming event at Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, on August 22, 2014. Nikola Obrovac won the gold medal.
Xinhua
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Silver medalist Yang Jiwon of Republic of Korea of the Women's 200m Breaststorke

Nanjing 2014 - Silver medalist Yang Jiwon of Republic of Korea stands on the podium during the awarding ceremony of the Women's 200m Breaststorke match of swimming event at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, on August 22, 2014.
Xinhua
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Gold medalist Liliana Szilagyl of Hungary after the Women's 100m Butterfly

Nanjing 2014 - Gold medalist Liliana Szilagyl of Hungary celebrates during the awarding ceremony of the Women's 100m Butterfly of swimming at Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Aug. 22, 2014.
Xinhua
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