History of Swimming

Breaststroke was one of the oldest stroke among the 4 competitive stroke.

Swimming is one of the oldest sports in the world. The interest part about swimming is that it has evolved so much from our grandfather time until today, with the record time getting faster and faster each year. The swim form, the stroke technique have change and might even change again in the future, with perhaps the dolphin kick replacing the flutter-kick in the freestyle event, whichever is faster.

History of Swimming

Archaeologists know that humans developed watercraft some 40,000 years ago and so it’s reasonable to take assumption that people were swimming by that time. (Nemecek 2000) Many of these early swimming activities seems to have been part of religious rituals, recreation, or military maneuvers. Swimming is one of the oldest arts although no trace of its origin, discovery, invention to be found in any of the ancient writings. However, one rare and beautifully written passage, written by Manillius, a 1st century Roman poet wrote: “For just as the dolphin glides through the water on swift fins, Now rising above the surface and now sinking to the depths, and piles up waves and sends them off in circles, just so will each person born under the sign of the Dolphin fly through the waves, raising one arm and then the other in slow arcs.”

Written some 2000 years ago, One can envision that a skilled swimmer performing a type of overam stroke. His reference to dolphin swimming was prophetic in the extreme, as imitating the dolphin action is the most successful adaptation humans have made from nature. He must have had sharp eyes, for he describes not only the technique but even the reacting “Vortex” flows in the water. That’s really awesome.

In early days, the first competitive swimmers were more intent on developing good style rather than speed. Graceful and elegant movement, with a minimum of splashing, were considered the hallmarks of style by the early exponenets of the sport.

Formation of the stroke

Breaststroke is known to be the grandfather of all stroke and is one of the oldest swimming stroke in history. In the 16th/17th Century, the breaststroke was performed with head held high and completely out of the water. The kick at that time was instep and not soles of the feet (Muths 1798). Until the early 19th century, breaststroke swimmers adpoted a frog kick, in which the ankles were dorsiflex and propulsion developed by pressing the soles of the feet against the water (Counsilman 1968)- which we use today. Those days, the breast stroke kick were using wedge kick style. The breaststroke soon developed to side stroke with an overarm.

The Trudgen Stroke

John Trudgen was born in Poplar, Londonm on 3rd May 1852. He went to Buenos Aires with his parents in 1863, where he learned the South American Indian strokes from the natives, which was later named the trudgen stroke after his first appearance in the swimming race in England on 11th Aug 1873. The english spectators were startled when Trugen won his first race, the English 160 yard handicap, with the most unusual stroke. The idea for a double overarm stroke came from observing his unusual technique, which later was to become the basic arm stroke of the crawl.

Singapore Swimming Lessons
History of Swimming on Trudgen Stroke Illustration.

Transformation of Swimming Strokes

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