We explain everything about swimming, its history, the styles that can be practiced, and its health benefits.

Swimming is the practice of movement and displacement in the water.

What is swimming?

Swimming is the recreational or sports practice of movement and displacement on the water, using only the arms and legs of the human body. It is also a technique learned as a method of survival (in fact, it is taught in numerous educational curricula) and practiced as an exercise, given its many benefits to the body.

Your practice can be competitive or merely recreational. As a formal sport, it is one of the most practiced in the world, including in the Olympic disciplines, and carried out in pools of different lengths (50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 meters). Specific swimming techniques are known as styles and have particular names.

Swimming is possible because the human body is slightly less dense than water, so it always tends to float. Our relationship with water is very particular, despite being terrestrial beings, since we are extracted from an aquatic environment such as the maternal womb at birth.

Babies show an innate tendency to swim and certain diving reflexes, such as automatic breath-holding, slowing heart rate, and reduced circulation to the extremities (mammalian diving reflex).

history of swimming

Swimming has been practiced since immemorial, and there is evidence of its knowledge in cave paintings over 7,000 years old. It is also mentioned in texts from later times, such as 2,000 BC. C.: the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Bible, etc.

However, the first book on swimming was written in 1538 and is attributed to Nikolaus Wynmann, a German professor of languages: The Swimmer, or a Dialogue in the Art of Swimming.

importance of swimming

Swimming is much more than a sports practice; it is also a skill and technique that can represent the difference between life and death on many occasions. A good swimmer is more likely to survive inevitable maritime accidents or falls overboard from boats (if he is conscious and fully aware).

On the other hand, swimming is one of the most popular sports practices in the world. It provides many benefits to the respiratory and circulatory systems of human beings, as we will see later.

Swimming styles
swimming sport butterfly style
In the butterfly stroke, both arms move forward together.

There are numerous styles of swimming, some personalized or rarely used. Still, generally, there are four main styles, which are distinguished in competitions and are endorsed by the International Swimming Federation:

Chest or breaststroke style. Also known as “frog style,” since the human body is similar in movements to certain amphibians, it consists of floating face down with the arms pointing forward and the legs slightly bent. The head is held out of the water for air, and then the arms move in a circle under the water, propelling the body forward as the movement is mimicked with the feet, drawing them in and stretching them in the same rhythm.
Front crawl or freestyle. This style requires the swimmer to be straight, lying on one arm that plunges straight into the water while the other emerges with the elbow flexed and the palm extended downward, ready to enter the water. The head leans to the side to take in air, which is expelled when the torso submerges and turns to repeat the movement but with the other arm. Meanwhile, the legs move, relaxed, with the toes pointed and the feet turned inwards, giving oscillating kicks.
Back or dorsal style. A style similar to the front crawl, but face up, with the back submerged in the water, moving one arm in the air with the palm coming out from under the leg while the other propels the body into the water.
Butterfly style. A variation of the breaststroke or breaststroke, in which both arms move forwards and backward together under the water, driving the torso forward continuously and accompanied by an undulating movement of the hips, which submerges the head when entering into the water and culminates with a kick called “dolphin” for its resemblance to the swimming of these animals, using the feet together.

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