Swimming is the way humans move themselves quickly through water. It is a popular activity in hot countries. It is also popular in areas with natural watercourses such as rivers, canals and lakes. Swimming is also a competitive sport. Normally there are four types of swimming in competitions:

Freestyle - the swimmers can swim any way they want. But nearly every swimmer uses the front crawl. This is normally the fastest way to swim.

Butterfly - the swimmers pull their arms out of the water together. They need very good balance. The butterfly is the hardest of the four strokes.

Breaststroke - the swimmers hands must be pushed forward together from the breast (chest) At the same time the elbows must stay under the water. It is the slowest stroke in swimming. Swimmers must have strong shoulders to swim the breaststroke, and the butterfly, stroke well.

Backstroke – the swimmers lie on their back. They swing their arms back over their shoulder to move through the water. When one arm is in the air the other arm is in the water. The swimmers’ legs kick up and down with the knees slightly bent. Backstroke is easy to swim.

Images courtesy of www.wikipedia.org
Male Events
Freestyle 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 4 x 100m relay, 4 x 200m relay
Backstroke 50m, 100m, 200m
Breaststroke 50m, 100m, 200m
Butterfly 50m, 100m, 200m
Individual Medley 200m, 400m
Medley Relay 4 x 100m relay
Female Events
Freestyle 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 4 x 100m relay, 4 x 200m relay
Backstroke 50m, 100m, 200m
Breaststroke 50m, 100m, 200m
Butterfly 50m, 100m, 200m
Individual Medley 200m, 400m
Medley Relay 4 x 100m relay
Swimming History
2500 BC Egyptian wrote hieroglyphics (small drawings) showing swimming.
400 BC Egyptians and Romans dived off cliffs as fun.
36 BC Japanese Emperor Suigiu tried to get people swimming.
78 AD Romans made swimming a event for men to meet at in Britain.
600's Plagues stopped people from swimming during the Dark Ages. People were scared they would catch diseases.
1300's Knights learn how to swim in armour.
1400's The church disapproved of people bathing naked.
1500's Oxford and Cambridge University banned swimming.
1600's Japanese Emperor Go-Yoozei said school children should swim.
1700's Sea swimming made popular by King George III.
1800's Germany and Sweden developed acrobatic diving.
1845 First swimming championship introduced in Sydney.
1875 People started swimming across the English Channel. Captain Matthew Webb was the first swimmer to achieve this.
1885 First diving competition held in Germany.
1892 First women's championship held in Scotland.
1908 The Federation Internationale de Natation de Amateur (FINA) was formed. They look after swimming and diving competitions all around the world.
1924 Johnny Weissmuller set 67 world records in many swimming events.
Australian Commonwealth Games medal tally from 1930 to 2002
  • 218 Gold medals
  • 151 Silver medals
  • 127 Bronze medals
  • 496 Medals in all
Olympic Game World Records for Australian Swimming
Event Competitor Time Date Location
200m Freestyle Ian Thorpe
1 min 44.71sec 16 Aug 2004 Athens
400m Freestyle Ian Thorpe
3 min 40.59 sec 16 Sep 2000 Sydney
1500m Freestyle Grant Hackett
14 min 43.40 sec 21 Aug 2004 Athens
4 x 200m
Freestyle Relay
Australia -
Ian Thorpe
Michael Klim
Todd Pearson
Bill Kirby
7 min 7.05 sec 19 Sep 2000 Sydney
Current and Recent Australian Swimmers
  • Ian Thorpe
  • Grant Hackett
  • Michael Klim
  • Matt Welsh
  • Geoff Huegill
  • Jodie Henry
  • Leisel Jones
  • Brooke Hanson
  • Elka Graham
Australian Swimming Legends
  • Dawn Fraser
  • Shane Gould
  • Murray Rose
  • Kieren Perkins
  • Susie O’Neill
Training Tips

If you want to become a great swimmer you have to train lots. Usually swimmers train 6 to 12 times each week.

They would swim about 1000 to 2000 metres each time if they race over short distances. Swimmers who compete in long races would practice swimming 10 kilometres each time.

They would practice two or three times a day. The very best swimmers would train for six hours a day. Swimmers may also run, ride a bicycle and light weights as part of their training.


Olympic swimming events can take 20 seconds to 15 minutes to finish.

The Swimmers Body

Usually swimmers are tall with strong arms, shoulders and chests. It is useful for swimmers to be thin. This makes it easier to move themselves faster through the water.

Health & Nutrition
Daily Recovery

The many hours of training makes swimmers tired. They need to eat more food than other people to have more energy. They often eat straight after training. This is very important if swimmers have to wait a long time until their next meal.

Drinking during Training

Swimming very quickly actually makes people sweat. This is hard to tell because swimmers are already wet in the water. So swimmers bring drink bottles with them to the pool. Sports drinks can also give extra energy.

Swimmers need Iron

Many hours of training use up iron in swimmers’ bodies. Swimmers need plenty of iron in their diet. They should eat both plant foods and meat that have lots of iron in the same meal.

Staying Well

Swimmers can get sick if they use up too much energy training. Scientists have found swimmers stay well if they do not get too hungry while training. Sports drinks and a snack after training also help.

Australian Medallists

To view them please click on the following links:

Find out more about taking up swimming in:
Handy Links
References & Sources
  • Dawn One Hell Of A Life by Dawn Fraser
  • Australian & New Zealand Olympians: the stories of 100 great champions by Graeme Atkinson
  • Champions of Australian Sport Swimming by Robert Hillman
  • Kieren Perkins (Young Achievers series) by Beth Dolan
  • Wikipedia

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