Olympic DebutAthens 1896
Most Gold MedalsMichael Phelps (USA)
An Ancient Discipline
Prehistoric man learned to swim in order to cross rivers and lakes—we know this because cave paintings from the Stone Age depicting swimmers have been found in Egypt. Swimming was also referred to in Greek mythology.
Dawn of a Sport
Swimming was not widely practised until the early 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain began to hold competitions. Most early swimmers used the breaststroke, or a form of it.
Discovering the Crawl
Based on a stroke used by native South Americans, the first version of the crawl featured a scissor kick. In the late 1880s, an Englishman named Frederick Cavill travelled to the South Seas, where he saw the natives performing a crawl with a flutter kick. Cavill settled in Australia, where he taught the stroke that was to become the famous Australian crawl.