Now you may know swimming as an activity that you participate in to get to a pool bar in sunny Spain….
However, the sport itself is slightly more than fiercely fit men in ridiculously small pants (not that we’re arguing) and using doggy paddle so not to get your hair wet.
The sport requires strict, complete dietary and physical dedication and an intense training regime. Not only is swimming a great cardio activity, it is fantastic for toning the muscular system hence there being more fat on a chip than on a professional swimmer.
A few examples of these sporting specimens are Rebecca Adlington, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps.
Rebecca Adlington is a woman on fire at the moment. In only her early twenties, she is a double Olympic gold medallist and is becoming a serious contender for world domination. She is also a great representative for the sport in the UK.
Although retired now, Ian ‘The Thorpedo’ Thorpe won 5 Olympic medals and lots of World Championship medals. The Australian dominated the sport and was very popular the world over. Currently there is a new champ, Michael Phelps. The American has won 16 Olympic medals and is still in his mid twenties. He also apparently has size 14 feet. Enough said!!!
Olympic swimming came about in 1846 in Athens. It takes place in a 50m pool. In all swimming events, the individual or team with the fastest time wins, you must keep in your lane and the pool wall must be touched after each length – simples!
There are 4 main types of strokes that races are based around and there are team events that use all of the strokes in a race format.
Butterfly – requires a huge amount of overall body strength, especially in the upper body. Can be raced in 50, 100, 200 metres.
Backstroke – involves swimming on your back, letting the water take your weight and just motoring through, with your arms rotating over your head. Seem easy?! Well, professionals then turn onto their front and tumble underwater, pushing off the wall to continue the next length. Typical distances 50, 100 or 200m.
Breaststroke – a favourite with Mums and holiday posers – a scooping of hands through the water combined with fish kicking legs, this stroke causes minimum splashing and done properly; is a powerful and fast stroke. Like other races – a flip/tumble turn or underwater “pull-out” occurs at the end of each length. Typical distances again are 50, 100 or 200m.
Freestyle/Front crawl – Usually the fastest of the strokes/styles as it is the most efficient. Why else do you think that David Hasslehoff and Pammie Anderson used it to rescue swimmers in Baywatch? Pull outs occur at each turn and distances are 50, 100, 200, 400, 500, 800, or 1500m.
Another race is called the Medley (which can be an individual or team race). This event combines technique, speed, and endurance. The sequence followed is: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle and is raced over 200m, 400m. Each part must be completed in its style before the next one commences.
Relays – everyone loves a relay race as they are generally the most exciting and competitive events within the championships. They are the 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 4x200m freestyle. Four swimmers from the same team compete in relays, using all four swimming styles, the sequence being: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle.
Relay changeovers are valid when the feet of the outgoing swimmer detach from the board at least 3/100 seconds after the fingers of the incoming swimmer touch the wall. If the outgoing swimmer moves too early, their team is disqualified.
So girls, when the fashion police are no where to be seen, maybe try swapping the cutaway, one shouldered number for a streamlined all in one!
You’re then ready to dive in and race!