Swimming Best Sport: 14 Benefits and Champions

Avatar of Shaimaa Olwan
Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Swimming is one of the most popular and most practised sports by athletes. Swimming is basically the movement that living organisms move in the water without travelling at the bottom of the water surface or the water pool. It dates back to the Stone Age more than 10,000 years ago, and the first indoor swimming pool was opened in 1828 under the name of St. George the public.

Swimming is as old as history itself, practised by the ancient pharaohs, evidenced by the pharaonic monuments in the Louvre Museum in Paris, some of which represent the ancient Egyptians swimming in the Nile River.

The epic of Homer’s Iliad indicates that the Greeks knew swimming and used it in their war battles, and in Spartan society, it was a compulsory subject for every child to learn. In it, the ignorant man was called a man who did not know how to read or swim. As for the Romans, they trained their armies to cross rivers with all their military equipment to swim. Agrippina, the mother of the Roman Emperor, Nero, practised swimming for forty years for several miles a day.

As for the King of France, Charlemagne, he built a swimming pool for him to practice this kind of sport, and Louis XIV followed him, who was holding swimming matches in the Seine and personally participating in them.

Competitions in this area appeared as a recreational activity in the English countryside during the year 1830. In 1837 the National Swimming Association was established by holding regular swimming competitions in six artificial swimming pools that are located in the city of London. In 1880 the recreational activity of swimming was the most important. It had a national governing body, an amateur swimmers’ association, and more than 300 regional clubs from all over the country.

Two American participants in the London swimming competition in 1844 were one of the reasons that led to the spread of the game in the world. Captain Matthew Webb was the first man to swim in the English Channel, which lay between England and France, in 1875, on his chest and covered a distance of 34.21 kilometres in 41 hours and 45 minutes. After that, European countries established swimming federations, such as Germany, France and Hungary.

The first competitions in the whole European continent were amateurs in 1889 in the Austrian capital Vienna, and the first women’s swimming championship was held in Scotland in 1892. This game became men and was part of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 to be held in Athens. Swimming developed day by day. In the old days, it was indispensable, especially for soldiers.

It is considered one of the recreational and sports activities that give the body many essential benefits; besides that, it is a global sport with its own competitions, leagues and laws, where this sport is among the most important sports of the Olympic Games.

Main Benefits of Swimming

  1. It is a sport that requires no equipment and is accessible to people of any age and fitness level.
  2. It is a great way to stay fit and enjoy water activities. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that helps reduce joint pain and improve flexibility.
  3. It is a great cardiovascular workout. In fact, swimming is considered to be one of the best forms of aerobic exercise.
  4. It is a full-body workout that includes both upper and lower body muscles.
  5. It is a fun activity that promotes social interaction among friends and family members. You don’t need special swimming skills; just get in the pool and start moving!
  6. It is a low-cost activity. There are many free public pools around the country where you can swim without paying a dime. If you want to buy some gear, you can find everything from goggles to wetsuits at reasonable prices.
  7. It is a safe sport. Swimming is generally not associated with any serious injuries. However, if you do suffer an injury while swimming, you have access to medical care.
  8. It is a good sport for kids. Kids love to play in the water, and swimming is a great way to keep them active and entertained. Swimming lessons are also a great way for children to learn how to swim.
  9. It is a lifelong sport. Once you’ve learned how to swim, you’ll never stop learning about the sport. As you progress in your swimming career, you’ll continue to develop new techniques and strategies.
  10. It is a popular sport. According to the National Swimming Pool Foundation, over 30 million Americans participate in swimming each year.
  11. It is a team sport. Swimmers train together to become faster and more robust.
  12. Teamwork is a big part of swimming, and swimmers work together to achieve their goals.
  13. It is a relaxing sport. When you’re done swimming, you feel refreshed and relaxed.
  14. It is a perfect way to unwind after a long day.

International Swimming Pool Sizes

Its length is 50 meters, the length of each of them is 2.5 meters, separated by ropes that extend along the length of the basin, at the height of half or three-quarters of a meter above the surface of the basin water.

Starting platforms

The height of the platform above the water surface is from 50 cm to 75 cm, its length 58 cm and its width 50 cm as a minimum. Each platform is numbered starting from its four sides, and the distance separating the pool from the diving pool must be at least five meters.

Swimming Styles

1.      Front crawl

In front crawl, the swimmer descends into the water so that their chest is in contact with the water and their shoulders align with the water’s surface. It is considered the fastest swimming style. The swimmer must show part of his head above the water and take out their mouth from time to time to breathe, and they can act freely at the beginning of the race and when turning. As for the front crawl races, they are 50 meters, 100 meters and 200 meters. There are some substyles to front crawl that can be distinguished as:

  • Dolphin crawl.
  • Head-high crawl.
  • Catch-up stroke.

2.      Backstroke

In backstroke, the swimmer pushes through the wall of the pool with his feet at the start, as well as during the rotation, and swims on his back throughout the race, and the backstroke races are 100 meters, 200 meters and 50 meters.

Backstroke is one of the most famous and well-known swimming techniques, and it is the only one among the four swimming techniques in which a person floats on his back. Backstroke is slower than the front crawl technique and the butterfly technique, while it is faster than the breaststroke technique.

Back swimming, as indicated by its name, is one of the swimming techniques that a person performs while lying on his back in the water and in order to perform this technique, you must do the following:

  • You have to float on your back in the water while maintaining your balance.
  • It would be best if you kept your head in a straight plane, exactly parallel to your spine.
  • Your face should be above the water’s surface while you are looking up.
  • The arms alternate in a semi-circular motion backward.
  • As for the legs, they kick the flutter.

You cannot perform backstroke without going through a series of exercises necessary for the proper performance of backstroke. During these exercises, you will have to learn the following:

  • Flutter kick

The flutter kick is one of the basic movements in backstroke, so you must go through its exercises. The trainer will train you in the flutter kick by making you hold the edge of the pool while you are lying on your back in the water and then move both legs up and down until you can reach the best performance to kick the flutter.

  • Balance

Balance is the most important thing when you start learning to swim, especially backstroke, so of course, you will go through special balance exercises in the water so that it is easy for you to make your body float on the water. In back swimming, you will rely on the flutter kick to maintain your balance, so your coach will get you used to balancing your body using the flutter kick.

  • Arm movement

The trainer will then train you in the movement of the arms mentioned above, and often he will train each arm separately until he feels that you have mastered them completely, and then he will train both arms together.

  • Back swimming

It is an essential exercise in the case of back swimming. During this exercise, the person is trained on how to maintain his balance while lying on his back in the water. The trainer teaches the person to balance his body on the water with his head up and his arms next to him while his head is up.

  • Water line training

It is also an important exercise that helps you keep your head straight with the water, neither up nor down and helps keep your neck relaxed while performing backstroke.

  • Knee-free training

During this training, the person learns how to keep his knees underwater without raising or lowering them in a way that may lead to unbalance or dropping their legs down in the water.

3.      Butterfly stroke

In butterfly swimming, the swimmer hits the water with both arms forward and above the water, then pushes them back together and repeats the movement continuously. Butterfly races are 100 meters, 200 meters and 50 meters.

Butterfly swimming is one of the most famous types. It is characterised by the difficulty of learning it and the pleasure of its performance, and its role in strengthening the muscles and tightening the body. The legs are extended together, the knees are slightly bent, the arms are extended forward, and the shoulders are open, with the palms facing downward. The body begins its wavy movement up and down in line with the direction of the legs and arms in a particular way.

Butterfly swimming mechanisms

Maintaining the position of the body in a straight line with the head facing down and the hips close to the surface of the water allows easy movement forward, down and up like a wave, in addition to mastering the direction of the body with the arms and feet leads to an increase in swimming speed with less effort.

The movement of the arms has been divided into three operations, which are the movement of pulling, pushing and returning, and we explain them in the following:

The process of pulling, in which the arms must be extended in front of the body with a width of the shoulders, then the arms are pulled together outward to form a Y-shape in front of the body while keeping the elbows higher than the arms. Push the arms so that they are aligned to the sides of the body to give the correct thrust.

In the process of returning after completing the pulling process, we need to return to the starting position by extending the arms out of the water together and then placing them forward at the starting point while keeping the hips low to achieve as much fluidity as possible.

Here comes the effect of the two legs when joined together to become like a dolphin’s tail in order to push the body forward, and this happens through two kicks in each cycle of one arm, the first kick when the arms come out of the water. For the second kick, when the arms enter the water, you will need a big kick to keep the movement body forward.

The difficulty of breathing during the butterfly’s swimming lies in choosing the right time and the appropriate speed, as the reasonable time for breathing is at the moment the arms exit in the stage of returning to the initial position and is automated by the following steps:

Raise the head until the chin is above the surface of the water with a quick inhale, and here the neck should not be tilted to the side during the inhale, but rather it must be made straight so that the swimmer feels more comfortable.

Lower the head under the water again, and this should happen before the arms return to the water. Usually, the athlete breathes once every two arm cycles. However, the need for breathing must be balanced with the speed required to complete the movement.

4.      Breast swimming

It is one of the favourite swimming pools for people who practice recreational swimming, rescue, diving and standing in the water. But it is one of the most challenging rosaries to perform. The reason for this is due to the difficulty of aligning the arms and legs.

The water resistance is also excellent, which hinders the movement of the body forward. Breast swimming is the only swimming in which the legs and hands are equal in a very relative proportion. This role is highly effective due to the effect of the movement of the hands and legs to move the body forward.

The body is elongated in a straight horizontal shape, and the heels do not appear above the surface of the water. When pushing from the arms, they are under the surface of the water, and the palms of the hands are down and out. A small part of the shoulders appears above the surface of the water.

Breast swimming mechanisms

It is called the frog-like movement, where the movement begins in a form in which the legs are extended next to each other, and the combs are straight. The retrograde movement begins through flexion of the knee and thigh joints until the heels touch the buttocks by bending the feet towards the leg and outward.

So the angle between the thigh and the torso is approximately 125 degrees, an angle that is greater than that negatively affects the fluidity of the body. This reduces the speed of movement of the body in the water. The water is pushed back by the force of the sole without exaggerating the force. It comprises the legs in the form of a quick and short cycloplegic motion with the combs rotating and extending.

The movement is coordinated between the arms, and the action starts with extending the arms forward to the side of the head.

There is a close relationship between breathing and the movement of the arms. So that the swimmer quickly takes the inhale through the mouth and expels the exhale through the nose. Inhale when pushing the chin forward and lifting the shoulders. The exhalation is discharged when the retrograde movement of the arms.

5.      Freestyle swimming

In freestyle swimming, the contestant swims in a style that is comfortable to him. Still, in the various relay and individual races, the swimmer must swim in a different style from the styles of breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.

  • Diverse relay: In this type of race, teams of 4 swimmers compete, each swimming for a distance of 100 metres.
  • Individual medley: In this type of race, the swimmer covers 200 meters or 400 metres. In the 200-meter medley, the competitor swims every 50 meters with a different type, such as butterfly, back, chest or freestyle, while in the 400-meter medley, the rider changes their style every 100 metres.

Swimming competitions

As for his races, they are held in seas, rivers, and lakes, and they have a specific itinerary. The most famous of these races are:

  • Long-distance races
  1. The Channel Race (France – England) with a distance of 33 km.
  2. Capri Race – Naples (Italy) with a distance of 30 km.
  3. The International Nile Race (Helwan – Cairo), Egypt, with a distance of 57 km.
  4. Race or Ontario (Canada) with a distance of 45 km.
  • Short-distance races

It is one of the primary games that entered the Olympic curriculum in the first Olympics held in Athens in 1896. Swimming for women was included in the Olympic curriculum at the Stockholm Games in 1912.

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