OVERVIEW 


Competitive swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports, with events in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and individual medley. In addition to these individual events, swimmers also take part in relays.

Olympic Games and FINA World Championships events are held in a 50-meter pool, called long course pool.

At olympic level, men and women compete in 17 events each (14 individual + 3 relay), plus one mixed relay (4x100m Medley). Relive the Olympic program from Rio 2016

At the FINA World Championships men and women compete in 20 events each (plus two mixed relays). Find out the swimming program of the last edition of the FINA World Championships 

 

STYLES 

In competitive swimming four major styles have been established, from the fastest to the slowest, the order of stroke is: 

1. FREESTYLE / CRAWL

An event where the swimmers may use any stroke they choose, which typically is the crawl. The crawl is a stroke made in the prone position characterised by alternate over arm movements and a continuous up-and-down kick; originally known as the Australian crawl.

Cesar Cielo Filho (BRA) - World Swimming Championships (25m) Dubai 2010

Image Source: Getty Images

2. BUTTERFLY

A stroke made in the prone position where both arms are lifted simultaneously out of the water and flung forward, in combination with the dolphin kick.

Caeleb Dressel (USA) - FINA World Championships Budapest 2017
 

Image Source: Getty Images

3. BACKSTROKE

A stroke in which the swimmer is on his or her back performing a flutter-kick and rotating the arms alternately backward.

Fu Yuanhui (CHN) - FINA World Championships Kazan 2015

Image Source: Getty Images

4. BREASTSTROKE

A stroke made in the prone position in which both hands move simultaneously forward, outward and rearward from in front of the chest, and the legs move in a frog-like manner.

Alia Atkinson (JAM) - Swimming World Cup 2016 

Image Source: Getty Images

WORLD RECORDS 

FINA has recognised World Records since 1908, but the "modern era" of global standards starts in 1957, when criteria very similar those existing today have been established.

Short course world records (25m- pool) were recognised since 1991. 

Find out all the current World Records

 

BIT OF HISTORY 

National swimming championships were organised since the middle of the 19th century in England. A professional body, the National Swimming Society, was created in 1837, in Australia in 1846, USA 1877, Germany 1882, Hungary 1896 and France 1899. 

Scotland innovated in 1891, by creating a “Championship for Ladies” over 200 yards.
Despite the difference of lengths and styles at the time, FINA retained in 1908 six official events for future Olympic Games:

FREESTYLE BACKSTROKE BREASTSTROKE
100M 100M 200M
400M 400m  1500m
1500M    
4X200M    

In 1912 Women's Swimming was introduced into the Olympics

In 1930 Butterfly was developed as first variant of breaststroke, then in 1952 is officially recognised as separate stroke

Image Source: Central Press/Getty Images

10th August 1928: Hildegard Schrader of Germany winning the 200 metres breaststroke final at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.