Main article: History of swimming
The sport of swimming has been recorded since prehistoric times; the earliest recording 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 to swimming include the Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Bible, Beowulf, Quran and other sagas. In 1778, Nikolaus Wynmann, a German professor of languages, wrote the first swimming book, The Swimmer or A Dialogue on the Art of Swimming (Der Schwimmer oder ein Zweigespräch über die Schwimmkunst). Competitive swimming as we know it today started in the United States started around 1800, mostly using breaststroke. Many Americans often used swimming competitions to settle differences in the frontier, such as property rights. 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 dislike of 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 Athens. In 1902 Richmond Cavill introduced the front crawl to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), 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. Competition
Competitive swimming became popular in the nineteenth century. The goal of competitive swimming is to constantly improve upon one's time(s), or to beat the competitors in any given event. However, some professional swimmers who do not hold a national or world ranking are considered the best in regard to their technical skills. Typically, an athlete goes through a cycle of training in which the body is overloaded with work in the beginning and middle segments of the cycle, and then the workload is decreased in the final stage as the swimmer approaches the competition in which he or she is to compete in. This final stage is often referred to as "shave and taper"; the swimmer tapering down his or her workload to be able to perform at their optimal level. At the very end of this stage, before competition, the swimmer shaves off all exposed hair for the sake of reducing drag and having a sleeker and more hydrodynamic feel in the water.
World record holder and Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps in the 400 IM. Swimming is an event at the Summer Olympic Games, where male and female athletes compete in 16 of the recognized events each. Olympic events are held in a 50-meter pool, called a long course pool. There are forty officially recognized individual swimming events in the pool; however the International Olympic Committee only recognizes 32 of them. The international governing body for competitive swimming is the Fédération Internationale de Natation ("International Swimming Federation"), better known as FINA. Open water
In open water swimming, where the events are swum in a body of open water (lake or sea), there are also 5 km, 10 km and 25 km events for men and women. However, only the 10 km event is included in the Olympic schedule, again for both men and women. Open-water competitions are typically separate to other swimming competitions with the exception of the World Championships and the Olympics. Swim styles
In competitive swimming, four major styles have been established. These have been relatively stable over the last 30–40 years with minor improvements. The four main strokes in swimming are: Freestyle(free)
Events in competition could have only one of these styles or they could contain all four. The individual medley is an event that where swimmers start the race with butterfly, then move to backstroke, breastroke, and then freestyle. There are two possible distances of this event, both swum in each...