The act of swimming; SYN. swim.
Self-propulsion of the body through water. As a competitive sport there are four strokes: crawl, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. (In freestyle events, the crawl is usually used, since it is the “fastest” stroke for most swimmers; but any stroke may be used.) Distances of races vary from 25 yards up to the mile or more. Swimming meets are held in pools and at beach clubs (for the events longer than the mile).
Swimming has been known since ancient times, in the training of Greek and Roman warriors. Competitive swimming is known to have taken place in Japan 36 BC, and became compulsory in schools there in 1603. Fear of infection prevented Europeans from swimming during the Middle Ages, but during the late 19th century swimming pools with chlorine as a disinfectant began to be built at major schools and universities. By the early 20th century in the US, public pools were features of parks and clubs, and swimming, diving, and water polo were part of the sports revival that gave pleasure to the leisured classes.
Swimming has become a popular pastime and competitive sport for age-grade, school, amateur, and senior contestants in all parts of the US.