People have been swimming since the Stone Age, but it wasn’t until the 1830’s in England when swimming became a competitive sport. This was a direct result from the creation of the first indoor artificial swimming pool in 1828. The Olympic Games adopted swimming in 1896 but were held in open water for the first four Olympics. In the 1908 Summer Olympics a 100m pool was built which marks the first artificial Olympic pool. Pools of 50m and 25m are more commonly used today and implement the use of electronic timing which has made the results of competitions significantly more accurate.
The objective of competitive swimming is to be the fastest to swim a particular length of water using a certain swimming style. Relay events and individual events are both available in competitive swimming. The rules and regulations of swimming are set out by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA). There are a few key rules that should be noted to avoid disqualification in competitive swimming. A false start will lead to immediate disqualification even when participating in a relay event and can be devastating to the team or individual. The other key rules are based on technique used in races. One common disqualification occurs in breaststroke and butterfly, where the swimmer is required to touch the wall simultaneously with both hands parallel for every turn and finish.
Competitive swimming can be considered endurance based and strength based, depending on the distance and stroke. 25m, 50m and even 100m freestyle can all be swum under a minute by the average competitive swimmer. This means that anaerobic respiration is most useful for sprinter type swimmers. On the other hand aerobic respiration is more beneficial for endurance type swimmers (200m+ and some 100m events) as they will be swimming for longer than a minute.
An Olympic athlete trains around about 30-36 hours a week consisting of both morning and afternoon trainings. Some swimmers also do some strength training, where swimming movements are simulated on land (i.e. land training) with the use of stretch cords and weights. Carbohydrates are the main source of nutrition that fuel swimmers before/during/after these trainings. Complex carbohydrates are the best as they slowly release energy during long training sessions. Injuries are likely to occur during these long training sessions, the most common being cramps. Other common injuries involve the knees and shoulders because of bad technique or overuse.
Back in 2009 there was a lot of controversy surrounding competitive swimming. An abnormal amount of world records were being broken and it was all due to a mere swimsuit. The Arena X-Glide swimsuit destroyed many well deserved world records which unfortunately were never reverted to their original times. The suit allowed swimmers to swim faster due to less skin contact (i.e. less drag) and more buoyance. FINA banned the suits after 2009 and also created other additional rules...