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The Background of Swimming


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Swimming is a team and individual sport played at the Olympics. Participants use one of the following strokes to move through water in an indoor or outdoor swimming pool: Butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle, or backstroke.


It should not be confused with artistic swimming at the Games or marathon swimming in open water, which are two different sports entirely.

Who invented swimming, where did it happen, and when?

We know that prehistoric men learned to swim to cross rivers and lakes because Egyptian cave paintings from the Stone Age show swimmers. Greek mythology referred to swimming as well.

Before the National Swimming Society of Great Britain started hosting competitions in the early 19th century, swimming was not a popular sport. Most of the earliest swimmers employed a variation of the breaststroke.

The original crawl included a scissor kick, modeled after a stroke used by native South Americans. During his travels in the South Seas in the late 1880s, Frederick Cavill, an Englishman, witnessed the locals engaging in a flutter kick crawl. When Cavill relocated to Australia, he began instructing students in the stroke that would eventually become known as the Australian crawl.

What guidelines govern swimming?
Individual medley (IM) events offer swimmers the option to race using all four strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

In the events of freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly, and individual medley, swimmers initiate the dive from a raised starting platform, whereas backstrokers (who also initiate the medley relays) start in the water by grasping a starting block.

The second, third, and fourth swimmers on a team can only start their leg of the race after the preceding swimmer has touched the wall in a relay event.

The first swimmer to touch the pool wall after the predetermined distance wins. All races begin simultaneously with the sound of a tone. A swimmer will be eliminated from the competition if they jump into the pool before the start signal.

What’s the length of an Olympic swimming pool?
Eight lanes make up the 50 meters that make up an Olympic swimming pool.

Swimming types

Professional swimmers usually participate in 25-meter pools for the “short course” or 50-meter pools for the “long course.” At the Olympic Games, only long-course competitions are held.

Swimmers are allowed to use the following four strokes in all races: butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle.

In the distinct Olympic sport of marathon swimming, swimmers compete over extended distances in open water settings (such as rivers, lakes, and the ocean) utilizing solely freestyle technique.

Olympic Swimming
Given that it has been a part of every modern Olympic Games since Athens 1896, swimming is one of the oldest Olympic sports. Mixed medley relays made their Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020, and women’s competition started at the Stockholm 1912 event.

100 meters is the shortest race for the backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly, while 50 meters is the shortest individual event at the Olympics.

As of Tokyo 2020, the United States leads all nations in medal counts with 257 gold, well ahead of Australia in second place with 69.

Michael Phelps of the United States is the most decorated male Olympian swimmer of all time. He holds the record for the most gold medals won by an Olympian in any sport, with 23 gold medals total (including 13 individual titles).

With ten gold medals overall and seven gold medals (six individual titles), his countrywoman Katie Ledecky is the most decorated individual female Olympic swimmer in history.

It is the second most popular sport in terms of medal-contested events at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, with 35, after athletics.

Top Swimmers to Keep an Eye on
Katie Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic champion and arguably the best female swimmer of all time, is still competitive and may participate in two or three more Games. In the 200 and 400-meter freestyle, the American has also taken home individual Olympic titles.

Ariarne Titmus of Australia, who took home the Olympic individual 200- and 400-meter freestyle titles in Tokyo 2020, is her biggest opponent.

Emma McKeon, a fellow Australian, is the most decorated Olympian. With her four gold medals from the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, including the individual titles in the 50m and 100m freestyle, along with three bronzes, she became the most decorated Olympian in all sports during the competition. She continues to be one of the best swimmers in the world in the 100-meter butterfly and freestyle sprint events.

After winning the 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter medley world titles in 2022 at the age of 15, Summer McIntosh of Canada is regarded as one of the most exciting swimmers in the world.

With three individual gold medals (the 50-, 100-, and 100-meter freestyles) and two more in the relays at Tokyo 2020, Caeleb Dressel is regarded as the reigning champion of men’s sprint swimming.

Romania’s David Popovici, who at the age of 17 won the 100- and 200-meter freestyle world titles in 2022, poses the biggest threat to him in freestyle.

As the greatest male breaststroker of all time, Adam Peaty of Great Britain made history by winning gold in the Olympics in both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. He also became the first man to swim a 100-meter breaststroke in under 58 and 57 seconds.

Before becoming the 400 IM and 200 IM world champion in Budapest in 2022, Frenchman Leon Marchand had already won two NCAA titles as a freshman. Be mindful of his competition with Kristof Milak of Hungary in the 200 IM and maybe the 200 m butterfly.

Rules for the Paris 2024 Swimming Competition
At the Paris La Défense Arena, 852 competitors will compete in the swimming competition for medals in Paris 2024.

A mixed medley relay, comprising two male and two female swimming teams from each nation, is a brand-new addition to the Tokyo Olympic program.

A maximum of two athletes per individual event and one relay team per relay event will be available to each NOC, with a total of 17 events per gender and one mixed event.

Instead of following the customary eight-day format, the competition will now span nine days. to accommodate multiple swimmers competing in the individual and relay events during the same session and to ease their schedules.

The semi-finals and finals will be held in the evening session after the preliminary rounds in the morning.


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