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Swimming

Your Olympic experience with Haven: Swimming

21/06/2021

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There are moments where we can all look back and say, ‘that inspired me’. Nothing does that more for us than sport, and there is no greater sporting event than the Olympics.

And when we think of the Olympics, we think of huge sporting arenas filled with groups of fans witnessing momentous occasions. There are sports that we know about week in week out like football and golf that appear at the once-in-four-year games and there are sports that we learn more about through their inclusions at the games like climbing and sailing. But there are also sports that the games simply couldn’t survive without. Swimming is one of those.

Many minds will turn to athletics when we think of the special spectacle the Olympics hands to viewers, but for us it’s the swimming pool. The dazzling drama of the games’ premier water sport always lives up to the hype, and with a swimming pool never far away on our parks, we itch to have a go ourselves. We’re a proud partner of Team GB, and in this article, we explore the history of swimming, what it means to Olympics and how you can get involved on a Haven holiday.

The origins of Swimming

The origins of Swimming

Swimming as a practice has been traced back to the prehistoric times, with Stone Age paintings depicting swimming more than 7,000 years ago. Swimming has been practiced by humans for many different reasons throughout time. In modern times, it's one of the most popular ways to keep fit, and in the UK alone there are 3,000 swimming pools that are often the heartbeat of local communities. Accessible for all ages, it works more part of the body than any other form of exercise and provides a welcome alternative to exercise on hard surfaces.

There is also evidence of swimming as a sport dating back to prehistoric times, but it truly emerged as a competitive activity first in England in the 1830s. With swimming pools opening rapidly, the Amateur Swimming Association was quickly founded. Other countries began to establish their own swimming organisations, and with that the foundation was laid for it to feature in international competition.

Types of swimming

Types of swimming

Swimming is arguably the greatest form of exercise. We all have great memories of learning how to swim as kids, with many childhood badges sown proudly into this writer’s swimming towel. Whether you’re swimming your first 5 metres or doing an epic 10,000 session, swimming technique can be grouped into four different types of strokes.

Front crawl (or freestyle as the professionals like to call it) is the fastest type of swimming. It involves moving both arms forward one-by-one whilst kicking your feet up and down. Backstroke does the same, with the swimming lying on their back (and in my case having to check where the end of the pool is)! Breaststroke involves a swimmer’s arms moving in a circular motion from their chest, with butterfly, the fourth stroke born out of this. Butterfly is by far the most difficult technique, requiring fantastic upper body strength.

Swimming at the Olympics

Swimming at the Olympics

Along with athletics and gymnastics, swimming is one of the most popular spectator sports at any Olympic Games. Swimming also carries the second-highest amount of medal chances for its participants, after athletics with 34 separate events. If you’re looking for world records to be broken, the swimming pool is the place to be, with the best times in history being broken an incredible six times in the first four days of swimming at Rio 2016. One of these shaved more than two seconds off the previous best time.

Continuous improvements in technique and technology have led to 40% of world records in swimming being broken since the year 2000. The introduction of goggles in the 70s meant that records were falling at virtually every Olympic race. Then, there is the addition of supreme athletes, with individuals like the USA’s Michael Phelps taking home an incredible 23 Olympic gold medals in his career. Katie Ledecky, his fellow American is on course to match this, with 28-strong gold medal haul from her career that still has years to run.

Swimming and Team GB

Swimming and Team GB

Swimming has produced some of the most iconic British athletes of all time. Anita Lonsbrough, who won 200m breaststroke gold at Rome 1960, was the first British female to carry the Union Flag into an Olympic Opening Ceremony and in 1962 was the first female to win the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

Another sport in which Team GB has excelled at in recent years, Rio 2016 and Beijing 2008 represented the most successful medal hauls for several decades. Inspiring figures like double gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and champion Adam Peaty were born out of that success, with both providing a fantastic foundation for the swimmers of the future. Swimmers of the future that we welcome onto our parks!

Swimming with us

Swimming with us at Haven

You’re never far from a swimming pool at a Haven park. With outdoor and indoor pools, flumes and slides, our pools are ideal for a relaxing swim, intense splash or fountain of fun. We think some of the best childhood memories are made in the pool. Included as part of any Stay+Play package, you’re guaranteed a good time regardless of which park you pick.