Swimming competitions – History of swimming

It is known that the first swimming competitions were held in ancient world – the pictures on the archaeological finds made on the territory of ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and other countries are the direct evidences of this.

A traditionof holding competitions in swimming revived in late Middle Ages in Europe. For example, according to the found documents, we know that such competitions were held in Veniceat the turn of XV-XVI century.


In the middle of the XIX century active construction of artificial pools began and the organizations of swimming athletes were created one-by-one in many countries (England – in 1869, Sweden – in 1882, Hungary and Germany –in 1886 etc.).

Swimming competitions were included in the program of the first Olympic Games in 1896. Twelve years later (in 1908) International Swimming Federation (or FINA)developed its first official rules of swimming competitions (“FINA rules”).

Pool length

The first FINA rules of swimming competitions (1908) state that the world record could be registered in any pools of at least 25 yards in length (for distances longer than 400 meters – at least 50 yards). At the same time, the official international swimming competitions could only be held in the pools of 50 and 100 meters in length. It is clear that in short pools (25 m.) swimmers overcome the same distance faster than in long one (50 m.), that’s why the most part of world records was set not at the Olympic Games or European championships.



Without any doubt, it affected greatly audience appeal to swimming competitions that is why FINA adopts new resolution due to which the world records could be setonly in 50 meters (55 yards) pools. Thus, all the world records set earlier in the short coursewere nullified and their registration was restarted.

But “short course” competitions were remained apart not so long. Within 30 years after FINA’s decision of 1956, since the mid-1980s, winter and spring “short course” competitions have been more and more popular. Finally, in 1989 FINA held its first “short course” World Cup and World Championship in 1993. Now the program of the “short course” swimming competitions has its own separate distance of 100 meters medley swimming (which is absent in “long course” swimming competitions).

System of swimming competitions

Since 2001 swimming competitions are held according to the system, which consists of preliminary, semifinal and final rounds. Preliminary rounds are held before noon, and semifinal and final one – afternoon.

On the basis of the preliminary morning rounds at distances of 50, 100 and 200 meters 16 athletes are selected, who participate in two semifinals in the evening on the same date, where 8 finalist are determined (it is held the next day).

At longer distances and in the preliminary morning rounds 8 finalists are determinedimmediately (for distances of 800 and 1,500 meters final is held the next day, for the rest – in the evening of the same day).

Reround is held if athletes show the same result in the preliminary (or semifinal) rounds. In the final round participants who showed the same result share the position.


Records at the swimming competitions can be registered in the rounds at any stage of the competition. Moreover, records can be also fixed during the rounditself (for instance, a record in swimming on 800 meters can be registered during the 1,500 meters round). In the relays a record in individual swimming can be registered only at the first stage.

Nowadays swimming competitions are becoming more and more spectacular. New distances are being added gradually (for example, 10 km.). The new ultra-precise equipment for fixing the results is developing, and television broadcasts of swimming competitions attracts a huge audience at the TV screens what promote swimming in general.

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