10 Interesting Facts About Swimming

From record breaking feats to swimming in ancient times, find out more about swimming before your child’s next swimming lesson. Read more to discover interesting swimming facts.

young girl in pink bathing suit and goggles splashing around in a light blue tiled swimming pool

Swimming is a lifesaving skill, especially in a country like Australia where going to the beach, local water hole or swimming pool is a common occurrence for families. 

Whether your child is an experienced swimmer, or just starting out at swimming lessons, learning water safety skills can be beneficial to your health, not to mention a great way for kids to have fun. 

Make swimming entertaining with our top interesting facts about swimming that your kids should know. 

The Importance of swimming & its benefits for your child

If you are headed to your local beach or the nearest swimming pool, you will find that there are some great advantages to jumping in the pool for a regular swim. 

Learning to swim can benefit muscle development and for children and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It can also help improve your mood. Studies show that swimming helps produce serotonin, the hormone that boosts your mood. 

Not only does swimming have some great benefits for your kids but it can also save lives. Learning to swim is an essential skill, especially when going to the beach, dam, river, or local pool is a major part of being immersed in Australian culture. 

Ensure that you and your family are SAFER in the water this holiday. You can sign up your children to our Holiday swimming program today for an intensive learn to swim program. No one is ever ‘safe’ around water. Being safeR ensures that you are aware that R stands for Risk. Swimming lessons ensure you and your family are water wise.

Historical facts about swimming

When was swimming invented? Where did the popular pastime of swimming start? 

Today’s children are not the only ones who enjoyed swimming or participated in swimming lessons. Swimming has been a part of human evolution for hundreds of thousands of years. 

Discover some interesting facts about swimming and add some history facts to your next car ride to the pool with your child. 

Ancient civilizations and their relationship with swimming 

Even ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Romans participated in swimming activities. For the Romans, swimming was an important part of their martial training that they had to learn. 

The history of swimming goes beyond Roman civilization, dating back to the Neanderthals, 100,000 years ago. Human remains show the effects of swimmer’s ear (a bacterial ear infection) from the early humans who used to dive up to 4 metres deep to collect clamshells. However, during the Ice Age 23,000 years ago, swimming stopped and hunting on land became favoured. 

It was to be a long time before swimming became a part of human culture again. During the reign of ancient Egypt, both poor and wealthy alike used to swim, this can be seen in hieroglyphic texts. Throughout history, swimming was a popular pastime and a helpful skill when it came to survival and hunting. 

The oldest stroke

Do you know which swimming stroke came first? The breaststroke is considered the oldest swimming stroke. Breaststroke is highly effective in rough water, which would have made it a probable choice for early humans swimming at sea. Breaststroke can also be swum with the head above the water, making it easy to look for the shore if in difficulty on open water. 

However this stroke is not the first one that kids will typically learn in swimming lessons. Before kids begin to learn any stroke development, they first learn about breath control, floating, and then move onto freestyle and backstroke.

Evolution of swimming

In 1828 the first indoor swimming pool was opened and would later become the home to many swimming competitions. The first swimming organisation began in 1837 in London, England. This was so well liked that in 1846, the first championship was held. Swimming became an integral part of popular culture and by 1896, it was a part of the first Olympic games. 

Swimming in the Olympics

Swimming has been a part of the Olympics since the very first games in 1896. Men have been able to compete in the popular sport since the beginning, while women were finally able to join in 1912. 

While your child might not be ready for the Olympics (yet!), they can still hone their skills with regular swimming lessons and even join a Swimming Squad at your nearest Rackley location. 

The origins of swimming goggles 

If your kids are having trouble getting used to their own goggles you can help by making a game of it, or even throwing in a few fun facts about goggles. 

Did you know the oldest account of swimming goggles was during the 14th Century in Persia. The ancient Persians used tortoise shells to cover their eyes while they dived for valuable pearls in the ocean. However, the Polynesians were the first to use glass goggles to improve their underwater vision. 

You can also help your little ones get used to their goggles by wearing them at bathtime, or even letting them pick a pair of goggles in their favourite colour!

Facts about swimmers: world records

Over history there have been some swimmers who have stood the test of time and became well-known names in the industry. But did you know that there are kids with some impressive records added to their names? 

Mikayla Tan at 11 years old beat a record for the fastest in her age group for 200 breaststroke. She won with an impressive time of 2:15.64. 

Chelsea Britt at 8 years old swam the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:15.62.

Is your child interested in setting their own records? It is never too late to learn to swim, you can sign up to Swimming lessons for adults today. 

Men’s world swimming records

The male with the most swimming records is Michael Phelps. During his swimming career Phelps won 28 medals, with 23 of those gold. To date, no other swimmer has been able to get near this number of medals won. 

In 1896 the swimmers were taken out to the Mediterranean Sea, with the first one back to shore being declared the winner. This honour was given to Alfred Hajos from Hungry who was the first gold medal winner for swimming. 

The first person to swim the 1500m freestyle in under 15 minutes was Russian Vladimir Salnikov in 1980. Salnikov was also the first Soviet winner of the race since the beginning of the Olympics Games. 

The world’s fastest Paralympic swimmer is Ukrainian Maksym Veraska who swam the men’s freestyle 50m in 22.99 seconds in 2009. 

Women’s world swimming records

Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. On her first failed attempt, Chadwick pulled the pin 15 hours into the swim and was unable to complete the swim. However, it was not to be her last attempt. 

The English Channel is 33 km long and Chadwick had a team on standby in a boat to watch out for sharks and be ready to assist if she tired. She successfully completed the swim in 1952. 

The first woman to become the female Olympics Champion was Australian Fanny Durack in July of 1912. This first event was a 100m freestyle during the Olympic Games held in Stockholm, Sweden. 

The fastest female swimmer is Katie Ledecky, who holds the records for women’s 800 and 1500m freestyle. She has recently won 6 gold medals at the Olympics and 22 medals at the World Aquatics Championship. 

If your child wants to hone their swimming skills and improve their technique, you can join a Swim Squad today.

Swimming across the eras

Unfortunately, not all kids are eager to jump into the pool, and some may kick and scream and refuse to go. You can help distract your child from their fears and instead encourage them to enjoy lessons. Get your child excited about swimming and let them know what a big difference it can make in their life. 

Since the first Olympic Games in 1896, swimmers have been setting records around the world. Alfred Hajos who won the first Olympic Games and by his 18th birthday we had won 2 gold medals. However while Alfred had to swim over massive waves, modern swimmers fared much better in the Olympic swimming pools. The fastest Olympic swimmer to date is Michael Phelps for the 200m and Yang Sun for the 400m. 

The first to swim the English Channel was Matthew Webb, a navy captain who swam the length in 21 hours and 45 minutes. In modern times, the fastest swimmer to swim the English Channel is currently held by Trent Grimsey who completed it in 6 hours and 55 minutes. 

While your child may not be ready to swim the length of the English Channel yet, telling them about the amazing things swimmers can do can help boost their confidence. 

Fun facts about swimming  

Now that you know the ins and outs about the history and world records surrounding history, here are some interesting facts on swimming from around the world. 

Fun facts about swimming: 

  1. Free divers in the ocean can hold their breath up to 10 minus underwater. Free divers don’t use any scuba equipment and rely on their own breath mastering skills to deep dive into the ocean. 
  2. Swimming uses every major muscle in your body! This is why swimming is such a great activity, it can boost your fitness and increase your muscle strength. 
  3. The first swimming races were in Japan during the year 36 BCE. 
  4. Studies show that swimming can reduce exercise-induced asthma.
  5. Over half of the American population can’t swim!
  6. Over half of the Aussie Olympic swimmers could swim before they could walk or talk. Starting swimming lessons from a young age is a great way to prepare your future professional swimmer!
  7. Australian Forbes Carlile invented the swimming pace clock, lane ropes and circle swimming. 
  8. Australian swimming pioneers Forbes and Ursula Carlile built the first indoor teaching pool in 1955 Sydney Australia to develop a baby swimming program and create the first commercial learn to swim business. 
  9. Swimming lessons are a great way for kids to learn vital skills and have fun! 

Learn more about swimming and important Swim safety skills today. 


From ancient times to the modern day, swimming has always been a favourite pastime, leading to competitions and many record-breaking feats. Next time your little one jumps in the pool, you can surprise them with some fun facts about swimming!

Start your child’s swimming journey with Rackley Swimming! You can sign up to our Learn to swim classes and help them work towards breaking a world record of their own, or simply have some fun.