Tokyo Olympics 2021: Who Invented Swimming as a Sport?

Published 07/02/2021, 11:50 AM EDT
Jun 14, 2021; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Michael Andrew (middle) races Andrew Wilson (top) and Nic Fink (bottom) during the men’s 100m breaststroke final during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Swimming competition at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports


When a baby is born in water, the limbs of the child automatically move as a case of a survival instinct. Swimming originated way before as a recreation but now is one of the most-watched sport in the entire world.

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Different people have various techniques for swimming and because of evolution and intelligence, humans developed different strokes to match with it.

The Tokyo Olympics 2021 is the latest platform for swimmers all over the world to showcase their talents. But who invented this serene sport, and where were the origins?

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Origins of Swimming

The origins of swimming date back to the Stone Age period according to their cave drawings. In addition, the Bible has references to this activity, while there are many poems related to the sport.

Greek poems like ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ are some examples of this reference. These are key factors in knowing about the existence of this sport. Once for recreation, swimming has grown into a sport, commonly practiced all over the world.

As time flew by, knights used it as a competitive sport, and slowly it started getting recognized by commoners. The English Channel that separates Southern England and France was the key focus back in 1875 as Matthew Webb swam across the channel.

The sport grew after his achievement. Soon after that, competitive swimming grew as swimming clubs started in different countries in the world to promote the sport.

TOPSHOT – USA’s Michael Phelps competes in a Men’s 200m Individual Medley heat during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. / AFP / François-Xavier MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images)

Soon the sport developed into different strokes like Freestyle, Breaststroke, Butterfly, and Backstroke. Women entered the swimming competitions for the first time in Stockholm Olympics in 1912.

Swimmers like Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, and Ian Thorpe made the sport famous for their unique records and victories.

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Tokyo Olympics 2021: The latest Olympic event

While the Olympics provide the sport with fair competition, people swim in the pools for recreation. With reference to pop culture, the movie ‘Life of Pi’ depicted the lead protagonist’s name with a swimming pool in France.

The ability to enjoy the water is evident among people as the sport is at the peak of perfection. With the increased number of viewers, swimming and athletics are the most-watched events in the Olympics due to the similarities in the normal routines of people in their daily lives.

The sport is a major health booster among people as it is known to reduce anxiety and stress. Moreover, it is one of the best calorie-burning exercises in the world.

However, competitions are tightly contested affairs as athletes strive to become the best swimmers in the world. Various swimming organizations and clubs develop talents into world record beaters.

Significantly, no other teams in the world can come close to the Americans and Australians in the world of swimming. Whereas, the US is way ahead in the medals tally by winning 217 medals. A quite remarkable feat. The Tokyo Olympics 2021 will increase that tally by a distant margin.

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Water is the elixir of life. The way it channelized from being an ordinary recreation to a world-famous sport is remarkable. Swimming will forever be one of the main sporting events in the world and continues to provide us with outstanding talents.

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Jacob Gijy

214 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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