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A brief history of Swimming.

Swimming is an ancient activity that has taken place since both water and humans were
on the earth. Prehistoric drawings from the southwestern part of Egypt show original
documentation of people swimming. Of course, anciently, swimming was done because
it was necessary for survival. Whether people needed to cross a river to safety on the
other side or simply know how to tread water to prevent drowning, swimming has
certainly come a long way since its ancient days. Here is the history of swimming in a
competitive sense as it is known today.

Recognizing swimming
England is recognized as the first country to participate in swimming as a recreation and
competitive sport. In 1837, competitions were held in man-made pools in London. The
National Swimming Society in England organized the competitions which grew quickly
in popularity. The very first indoor pool in the history of swimming was constructed in
1862 in England. Soon, more pools were built and another swimming organization was
established in 1880. It was known as the Amateur Swimming Association of Great
Britain, an organization with more than 300 member clubs. The main swimming styles
utilized in competitions were the breaststroke and the recently-developed sidestroke.

Entering the Olympics

Swimming joined the Olympics in 1896 as a men’s sport. They competed in the
categories of 100-meter and 1500-meter Freestyle. These were held in open water.
More Olympic events were soon added during the history of swimming, including
breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, and individual medley. The first few Olympic Games
that featured swimming did not include women. It was not until 1912 that women’s
swimming made its debut. There are now 16 races held for men and women, totaling 32
altogether, in each Summer Olympic Games. The Special Olympics also has 22
swimming categories for men and women, totaling 44 altogether.

Modifying for speed

Modifications in swimming techniques occurred through this point in the history of
swimming as different counties changed the way they accomplished the backstroke and
breaststroke. This occurred between 1935 and 1945 and into the 1950s, creating
controversy at the Olympics. Around this same time, war shortages demanded a
reduction in fabric for making swimming suits. Thus, the first two-piece swimming suits
were invented in 1943. Techniques for winning Olympic gold medals changed at this
time as swimmers spent more time under water to gain an advantage of speed. It is a
technique that is still used today.
Athletics is often used synonymously with any sporting activity, but in most cases,
athletics refers primarily to track-and-field events that involve running, jumping or
throwing. Those athletic events are most closely associated with the Olympics, but
competition in these sports is held at the youth level, high school, college, and
professional ranks all year round throughout the world.

The Ancient Greeks

The first Olympics in ancient Greece go back at least as far as the eighth or ninth
century B.C. While such sports as boxing and equestrian events were included, most of
the events were those now classified under athletics or track and field. They included
running, jumping, discus and the javelin. Those four, plus wrestling, made up the
pentathlon. The running events included "stades," which were essentially sprints from
one end of the stadium to the other, a distances of about 190 meters; two-stade races;
longer-distance races of between seven and 24 stades; and a two- or four-stade race in
which the competitors wore armor.

The Modern Olympics

Running and other athletic events have long been a part of many cultures, but in the
19th century, such activities were becoming more popular, particularly in Europe and
the United States. School curricula included athletics and in 1896, the first Modern
Olympics were held in Athens, Greece. Events included the 100-meters, 400 meters,
800 meters, 1,500 meters, 110-meter hurdles, pole vault, discus, shot put, javelin, long
jump, triple jump and high jump. Fourteen nations were represented.

Growth of Athletics

After the 1896 Olympics, the popularity of athletics, or rather, a revival of athletic
competition, took place around the world. National athletics federations from 17
countries got together to form an international governing body and in 1912, the
International Amateur Athletic Federation was born. For many years, the pinnacle of
athletics competition was the Summer Olympics. But in the 1970s, more world
championships in various events began to take place, helping to maintain interest in
track and field every year.

21st Century Organization

By 2011, nearly 50 outdoor and 25 indoor events fall under the IAAF's authority and
rules. Some events, such as the 50-meter sprint, are no longer part of major athletic
competitions, but remain part of school programs. Some events have been modified
through the years and races of many varying distances are contested every year. In
addition to the 26.2 miles of the marathon, there is a 13.1-mile half-marathon. There are
men's and women's competitions in almost every event. Men, however, can compete in
the 10-event decathlon, while women have the seven-event heptathlon.
Fitness Focus

Components of Health Related Fitness

There are five areas of health related fitness. They are heart and lung

endurance or cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance,

flexibility, and body composition.

Heart and lung endurance or cardiovascular endurance is the

ability to exercise the entire body for long periods of time. It requires a strong

heart, healthy lungs, and clear blood vessels to supply the body with oxygen.

Activities to improve fitness in this area include running, swimming and aerobic

dance. A person must do the activity continuously for a minimum of 20 minutes

within their target heart rate zone. Endurance/cardiovascular activity should be

done a minimum of 3 days per week. Every other day is preferable. The mile or

the pacer will measure fitness testing in this area.

Muscular Strength is the amount of force you can put forth with your

muscles. It is often measured by how much weight you can lift. People with

strength have fewer problems with backaches and can carry out their daily tasks

efficiently. Examples of muscular strength include push-ups, weight lifting heavy

weight with few repetitions, and pull-ups. Fitness testing will be measured by

doing push-ups.

Muscular Endurance is the ability to use the muscles, which are

attached to the bones, many times without getting tired. People with good

muscular endurance are likely to have better posture, have fewer back problems,

and be better able to resist fatigue than people who lack muscular endurance.
You can improve muscular endurance by lifting weights with many repetitions or

doing sit-ups. Measuring the number of sit-ups you can do correctly is used for

fitness testing.

Flexibility is the ability to use your joints fully. You are flexible when

the muscles are long enough and the joints are free enough to allow movement.

People with good flexibility have fewer sore and injured muscles. Stretching

before and after activities will help to improve flexibility. The sit-and-reach and

the trunk lift are two tests used to measure flexibility.

Body Composition is the percentage of body weight that is fat

compared to other body tissue, such as bone and muscle. People who have a

high percentage of fat are more likely to be ill and have a higher death rate than

lean people. Exercise and eating the right foods in the proper amounts can

improve body composition. Body composition can be measured using an

instrument called calipers, a specialized scale, or it can be calculated by using the

body mass index (BMI) which uses height and weight to determine your BMI.