The First Swimming Pool
Roman emperors had private swimming pools in which fish were also kept. Hence one of the Latin words for a pool was piscina. The first heated swimming pool was built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the 1st century BC. Gaius Maecenas was a rich Roman lord and considered one of the first patrons of arts.
The “great bath” is the earliest public water tank in the ancient world. It existed over 5000 years ago in the Pakistani city settlement of Mohenjo-daro. The tank itself measures approximately 12 meters north-south and 7 meters wide. It has a largest depth of 2.4 meters. Two wide staircases lead down into the tank from the north and south. And small sockets at the edges of the stairs are thought to have held wooden planks or treads. At the foot of the stairs is a small ledge with a brick edging that extends the entire width of the pool.
Not only for bathing
The most prominent pool history comes from the ancient Greeks and Romans. A major change in the quality of life occurred in these times as individual wealth increased. And, with this increase in the standard of living, came luxuries like pools. Water itself played such an important part of society for thousands of years. During this period pools were everywhere and for many reasons. Not only were pools considered the beauty of the property, but pools were used for bathing. Health, religious ceremony, socializing and much more.
In the 6th to 8th Century BC
The ancient Greeks had “Palaestras” which were an open court area. It has columns and rooms where one could come and wrestle, box, play ball type games. And other miscellaneous exercises. But there are also pools here for swimming, bathing and socializing in.
Pools before were also used by the Greek and Roman militaries to train for war. The great Greek philosopher Plato felt that every child needed to learn to swim. As part of a proper education along with mathematics, writing, astronomy. And, in fact, it was standard education to teach children to swim in pools dating all the way back to 400 BC.
In AD 305
The Romans built an incredible pool that was over 900,000 square feet. This pool was used for bathing and was also heated by giant fires in the basement beneath the floors of the pool. The columns and walls pumped the heat up to the pool above. Imagine how beautiful it is with marble and statues in the Roman architecture.
Pools were important in society during these ages. They used it for many public and social activities. but during this time pools wust as important in homes as well. Both Roman and Greek emperors had huge ornate pools with live fish in them. In fact, the word “pool” comes from, “piscine” meaning fish.
Pools as Competition Grounds
Competitive swimming was first introduced in the early 1800’s. It was in Britain by the National Swimming Society. At that time, there were man-made indoor pools in London. And the National Swimming Society of England used them for swimming competitions. These events became popular in England. And led to the formation of the Amateur Swimming Association in 1880.
The swimming strokes used in this time were the side stroke and the breast stroke. In 1873 John Trudgen introduced the front crawl to Britain used with a scissor or flutter kick. This enhanced speeds and made swimming competitions new and exciting. The fastest swimming style known today, is the freestyle stroke. In 1896, swimming was first included in the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece