Swimming is an awesome sport. It is low impact, it is easy and it is fun. Swimming does not require a lot of effort and with a little time and training it can be an enjoyable way to pass time. I like swimming. Swimming is fun.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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:
In the past two decades, the most drastic change in swimming has been the addition of the underwater dolphin kick. This is used to maximize the speed at the start and after the turns. The first successful use of it was by David Berkoff at the 1988 Olympics, where he swam most of the 100 m backstroke race underwater and broke the world record on the distance during the preliminaries. Another swimmer to use the technique was Denis Pankratov at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he completed almost half of the 100 m butterfly underwater to win the gold medal. In the past few years,[when?] American competitive swimmers have shown the most use of the underwater dolphin kick to gain advantage, most notably Olympic and World medal winners Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
While the dolphin kick is mostly seen in middle-distance freestyle events and in all distances of backstroke and butterfly, it is not usually used to the same effect in freestyle sprinting. That changed with the addition of the so-called sharkskin suits around the European Short Course Championships in Rijeka, Croatia in December 2008. There, Amaury Leveaux set new world records of 44.94 seconds in the 100 m freestyle, 20.48 seconds in the 50 m freestyle and 22.18 in the 50 m butterfly. Unlike the rest of the competitors in these events, he spent at least half of each race submerged using the dolphin kick.
While underwater dolphin kicking is allowed in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, its use is not permitted in the same way in the breaststroke. In 2005, a new rule was formed stating that an optional downward dolphin kick may be used off the start and each turn, and it must occur during the breaststroke pullout. Any other dolphin kick will result in disqualification.
New rules were established to curtail excessive use of underwater dolphin kicks in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. Currently, performing the dolphin kick past 15 meters results in a disqualification.
One of the world's greatest swimmers is Michael Phelps. Who is MP, you may ask. Let me tell you....
Phelps was born and raised in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of Towson, Maryland, located just north of Baltimore. Michael is the youngest of three children. His mother, Deborah Sue "Debbie" (née Davisson), is a middle school principal. His father, Michael Fred Phelps, is a retired Maryland state trooper who played football in high school and college and tried out for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. Phelps's parents divorced in 1994, and his father remarried in 2000. His ancestry includes English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and German. Phelps graduated from Towson High School in 2003.
Phelps began swimming at the age of seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy. When Phelps was in the sixth grade, he was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By the age of 10, he held a national record for his age group, and Phelps began to train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman. More age group records followed, and Phelps's rapid improvement culminated in his qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15 and becoming the youngest male to make a U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years. While he did not win a medal, he did make the finals and finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly.
At the World Championship Trials for the 2001 World Aquatics Championships, on March 30, Phelps broke the world record in the 200-meter butterfly to become, at 15 years and 9 months, the youngest man ever to set a swimming world record, breaking the record previously held by Ian Thorpe when he lowered the 400-meter freestyle world record at 16 years, 10 months. At the World Championships in Fukuoka, Phelps broke his own world record in the 200-meter butterfly en route to becoming a world champion for the first time.
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