Blog | How Swimming Has Changed Over the Years | Making Waves Swim School (2023)

(Video) Preschool swim class @ THE YMCA - Pike (Teach your kids how to swim!)

Did you know that swimming can be dated back to the Stone Age? Prehistorically, swimming was essential in order to cross rivers and lakes – as indicated in ancient cave paintings from Egypt which depicted swimmers. According to Archaeological and other evidence, it is safe to say that swimming must have been practiced as early as 2500 BCE in Egypt, Greek, and Roman civilizations. In Greece and Rome swimming was a part of martial training and was also part of elementary education for males. By the 17th century an imperial edict had made the teaching of swimming compulsory in the schools. Organized swimming events were also held in the 19th century before Japan was opened to the Western world. It is believed that during the prehistoric era swimming was evidently learned by children about the same time they walked, or even before! However, swimming was not widely recognized or practiced until the early 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain began to hold competitions.

Blog | How Swimming Has Changed Over the Years | Making Waves Swim School (1)
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The lack of swimming in Europe during the Middle Ages is explained by the fear by the locals that believed swimming spread infections and caused epidemics. Today, swimming is not only a recognized sport but has also become tremendously popular for leisure. Pools are almost everywhere; hotels, inns, private associations, apartment buildings, condominiums, commercial operations, schools, and universities. Over the years, water theme parks with rides, slides, and artificial waves began to attract large numbers of thrill-seekers. Just as the number of places for swimming increased, so did the kinds of activities that people enjoy in and on the water: boating, water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and an unlimited number of games – tag to water polo became increasingly popular.

This introduction of new activities shifted the purpose of swimming from being a necessity for survival to being a recognized sport and eventually also an activity for leisure. The variety of relaxing water pastimes, such as hot tubs, saunas, and whirlpools often located at or near swimming facilities, also started to grow in popularity. Leisure swimming also added great social value. Family and neighbourhood ties are strengthened by weekends at the beach, vacations by mountain lakes, pool parties, and just having the neighbourhood kids over to use the pool.

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Longevity of Swimmers

Several decades ago, the idea of’ swimming’ simply didn’t last long. Normally you would be done with swimming when you completed college. It was practically unbelievable and unheard of to be swimming in your mid-20s. Today, it is highly encouraged to keep swimming as a continuous activity because not only is it a lifesaving skill due to the prevalence of water and pools as described above, but it also has many health benefits! Swimming has been called the “perfect” exercise. After all, you can get all of the benefits of an aerobic workout without having any damaging impact on joints, and it can be done by all ages! Swimming offers a way for athletes to stay strong and keep fit when recovering from an injury, and there is no fancy equipment needed! All in all, swimming has many more benefits that those obvious advantages seen on the surface; its improvements to overall health go much deeper.

Training Items/Equipment

As the popularity of swimming increased rapidly, so did the advancement of training items and equipment. During the olden days, pocket drag shirts were a popular choice to use during swimming. These shirts were worn while swimming, and had open pockets all over chest and back, with plastic inserts in each pocket that bowed open. However, they added so much resistance that speed was slowed enormously, and all the extra strain was taken on the shoulders. Wherever they appeared, shoulder tendonitis soon followed.

Sometimes children can be hesitant with the idea of learning to swim and being in a large body of water. However, we believe that this is completely normal and we do our best to make all of our swimmers comfortable by teaching using a smaller steps philosophy which means breaking skills down into three to five steps. This allows swimmers to master things one small step at a time, we help propel your child forward by keeping them motivated and preventing them from getting discouraged. It also helps show your child that most things don’t happen overnight. Real success comes from practice, consistency and sometimes patience. In recent years, you’ll have seen lots of equipment at our pools which have proven to greatly assist our newer swimmers in developing confidence in their skills. Nowadays, kickboards, pull buoys, paddles, and floaters have been proven to be very efficient, especially when someone is learning how to swim which has only helped enhance the experience for swimmers!

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The concept of having a “swimsuit” did not exist historically. This is obvious because back then swimming was only for survival so the idea of having swim suits wasn’t even close to being born. Back in those days, it was especially harder for women to find something to wear for swimming since they were compelled to conceal their bodies in order to be “modest.” The clumsy Victorian-style bathing costumes were quick to become a burden. A need for new style bathing suits that retained modesty but was free enough to allow women to engage in swimming was obvious.

Only at the turn of the century, when swimming became an intercollegiate and Olympic sport, did people realize that the current swimwear lineup had been designed without functionality in mind. As time passed swimsuits became more streamlined and less heavy, paving the way for more styles to come. As we know today, swimming styles and suits have expanded greatly and are part of a booming business! In fact, some of us are still looking for that perfect swimsuit even today!

Safety & Rules

With freedom in water comes safety and responsibility! As swimming became a normalized activity, there was a realization that people should also be aware of the possible risks and should be encouraged to follow rules in order to prevent any accidents. The way we swim today is different than the past generations who did not have much knowledge about water safety and drowning prevention techniques. Historically, there weren’t established swim lessons or schools or much information on this topic. Therefore, the way information on correct techniques and safety procedures was addressed drastically and changed how swimming was perceived over the years. These procedures, precautions and policies associated with safety in, on, and around bodies of water really helped push the notion of swimming as a sport and recreational activity forward. Safety First is a core value of ours, and is integral to our Learn to Swim program development. Our lessons help condition our swimmers on safe ways to behave and interact with the water. Drowning is the leading cause in preventable death for children aged 1-4 in Canada. This is why we are strong believers that children are never too young to begin building safe habits in and around the water that will last a lifetime. Our classes are divided into two levels based on ability, so each class is tailored to what you and your experience level is in the water. We do our best to make sure that we help you with every step of the way!

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We’re grateful for the important role we play in your child’s life and we believe wholeheartedly that the keys to swimming success are the same as those required in many other areas of your child’s life. Making Waves has taught swimming lessons for over 25 years and the trends and developments that we just learned about has really helped shape what our program is today. Swimming has really become the gateway to overall fun with the water and we are so happy to help inspire a positive change in children’s lives!


How has the sport of swimming changed over the years? ›

Advanced training techniques and facilities such as hydrodynamic swimsuits and better drainage systems in the pools allowed athletes to swim much faster than those of the past. By 1924, marked lanes and guidelines for pool depths leveled the playing field and allowed for a more fair competition.

How did people swim in ancient times? ›

Overarm is the oldest swimming stroke depicted. In Egyptian, Hittite, and early Greek and Roman images people are shown swimming, alternating their arms and sometimes using a flutter kick with straight legs, the same stroke we're routinely taught in Australia.

Are humans naturally good swimmers? ›

Humans, who are closely related to the apes, also do not swim instinctively. But unlike apes, humans are attracted to water and can learn to swim and to dive. 'The behavior of the great apes in water has been largely neglected in anthropology.

Where was the swimming lesson included in ancient Rome and Greece? ›

In Greece and Rome swimming was a part of martial training and was also part of elementary education for males. By the 17th century an imperial edict had made the teaching of swimming compulsory in the schools.

When did swimming truly become and organized sport? ›

Swimming started its sporting journey in the mid-19th century, when the world's first swimming organisation was formed in London in 1837. Inevitably, things soon became competitive and, in 1846, the first swimming championship was held in Australia.

What impact does swimming have? ›

builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. helps you maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs. tones muscles and builds strength. provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming.

How did people swim before swimsuits? ›

In classical antiquity and in most cultures, swimming was either in the nude or the swimmer would merely strip to their underwear. In the Renaissance, swimming was strongly discouraged, and into the 18th century swimming was regarded as of doubtful morality, and had to be justified on health grounds.

What is history in swimming? ›

2500 BC: The first organized swimming occurs in Ancient Egypt. 800 BC: The Ancient Greeks use swimming pools for bathing and exercise. 100 BC: The Ancient Romans use swimming pools and bathhouses for communal recreation. 1830s: Swimming competitions begin to be held in Britain.

When did people start swimming in the ocean? ›

The practice of sea bathing dates back to the 17th century but became popular in the late 18th century. The development of the first swimsuits dates from the period as does the development of the bathing machine.

What mammal can't swim? ›

Most mammals are capable of swimming. But there are some animals that are incapable of swimming. Giraffe is one of the animals that cannot swim and it is because of their extreme anatomy – such as their long necks and legs, which would make swimming almost impossible.

Why do humans love to swim? ›

Swimming is a great stress reducer, it releases endorphins which give us a sense of wellbeing and happiness as well as releasing ANP, a stress reducing hormone. It's perfect for people with a busy lifestyle, just 30 minutes of swimming can burn over 250 calories. It's fun!

Were humans evolved to swim? ›

SWIMMING is by no means a natural human activity. The first swimmers, it is conjectured, were driven by hunger to search for sea food, and it must have taken millennia before they felt comfortable enough in water to enter it unaided.

Where is swimming most popular? ›

Top PositionsPeople Per Point
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Is swimming a sport yes or no? ›

Swimming is an individual or team racing sport that requires the use of one's entire body to move through water. The sport takes place in pools or open water (e.g., in a sea or lake).

What did Romans wear to swim? ›

In ancient Greece and Rome, men swam for exercise and to train as warriors. They also went to the public baths. Usually, they wore nothing at all. But sometimes they would put on loose-fitting gowns called togas.

What is the history of the sport of swimming? ›

2500 BC: The first organized swimming occurs in Ancient Egypt. 800 BC: The Ancient Greeks use swimming pools for bathing and exercise. 100 BC: The Ancient Romans use swimming pools and bathhouses for communal recreation. 1830s: Swimming competitions begin to be held in Britain.

Why is swimming different from other sports? ›

Water Resistance and Temperature

Water is much denser than air, so there is much more resistance preventing people from being able to move through it quickly and freely. This makes it so much more difficult compared to other land sports. Additionally, the water temperature often affects how swimmers perform.

What was the better swimmer and why? ›

Solution. Ranji was the better swimmer. When the other boy made fun of him by saying that he would not be able to swim across the pool, Ranji dived straight into the water and surfaced at the other end in a flash. The boy was amazed at how well Ranji had dived, and later, at how he had swum underwater.

How is swimming different from other sports? ›

Swimming is different from most competitive sports because, in swimming, a. Swimming's low-impact nature decreases joint strain, allowing swimmers to retain their performance and longevity in the sport.


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