The Perfect Pool Blog

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A Splash of Swimming Pool History: Part I

Historic Roman bath building

Swimming pool history is fascinating (if we do say so ourselves)! Today, almost every town across the country has a public pool or an aquatic center, and 10.4 million people in the U.S. even have their own backyard pool. But it wasn't always this way.

A Swimming Pool History Timeline

Here's a brief rundown of swimming pool history (including some fun swimming pool facts), starting with the ancient swimming pool era and working toward today's modern backyard pool era.

5000 B.C.: The Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan was built and used primarily for religious ceremonies.

2500 B.C.: Cave drawings were discovered in ancient Egypt in 1993 that depicted people swimming. The drawings dated back to 2500 B.C.

800–600 B.C.: The Ancient Greeks built recreational swimming pools, using naturally-occurring silver as a form of mineral sanitization to help treat the pool water. The Egyptians and Romans also used similar forms of mineral sanitization in their pools, technology which is still used today in certain pool sanitizers like Nature2 and Jandy TruGuard Mineral Sanitizer.

300–100 B.C.: The Ancient Romans copied the Greeks and created recreational bathhouses. But they improved upon the design by adding heat to the water.

36 B.C.: Swimming competitions are described in Japanese records.

75 A.D.: The Romans brought swimming to Britain.

The 1400s: The Catholic Church objected to nude public bathing for moral reasons.

The 1800s: Germany and Sweden introduced acrobatic diving as a sport.

1828: The first indoor swimming pool was built. (This is the first documented example, although many experts believe that indoor pools probably existed before this).

The 1830s: The first swimming clubs were formed in England, and swimming gained popularity as a competitive sport.

1885: Germany held the first-ever diving competition.

1895: The first residential swimming pool was built in Asheville, North Carolina.

1900: An obstacle swimming event was featured at The Paris Olympics: a 200m swim in the Seine River, where competitors had to swim over boats, up poles, and under vessels. (This was the only year this event existed!)

1904: Ten divers from Germany and the United States competed in the first Olympic diving competition.

1907: The first above-ground pool opened in the United States at the Philadelphia Racquet Club. Above-ground pools were an incredibly impressive invention during that era.

The Racquet Club of Philadelphia above-ground pool

(Image Source)

1908: FINA (Federation Internationale de Nation de Amateur) was founded as an international governing body for swimming.

1910: Brown University introduced chlorine as a way to keep its swimming pool clean. It was the first pool in the United States to use this chemical. Wealthy families began having pools built in their backyards around this same time.

1912: The Olympic Games in Stockholm added women’s swimming events.

1923: Swimming became an NCAA sport.

1924: The Olympics used swimming pools with lanes for the first time.

Don’t forget to check back in for part two!

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