Swimming can be dated back to the Stone Age although it didn’t become a well-known sport until the 19th Century.

From cave paintings from the Stone Age that have been found in Egypt, we learnt that in prehistoric time, people learnt to swim in order to cross rivers and lakes. Depicting swimmers was also referred to in Greek mythology. But the sport was not widely practised as an organised one until the early 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain began to hold competitions. In which, most of early swimmers used the breaststroke, or a form of it to compete against each other.


In the late 1880s, an Englishman named Frederick Cavill travelled to the South Seas, where he witnessed the natives South Americans performing a crawl with a flutter kick. From which, the first version of the crawl featured a scissor kick was become formal in Australia when Cavill settled there and taught the stroke to the Australian.

Swimming has been added on the programme of all editions of the Games since 1896 featuring freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was not added until 1904.
At the same year, new technique that allow breaststrokers to go faster was discovered in which swimmers bring both arms forward over their heads. Unfortunately, this practice was immediately forbidden; however, it gave birth to a new style – butterfly. This butterfly style made its first official appearance at the 1956 Games in Melbourne and now is one of the four strokes used in competition.
Women’s swimming was not allow until the Olympic games in 1912 at Stockholm. Ever since, it has been part of every edition of the Games with men’s and women’s programmes are almost identical of the same number of events. The only difference is the distance in which the freestyle distance is 800 metres for women and 1,500 metres for men.