Spending time at the pool is something most of us expect to do when we go on vacation. Many wealthy and upper-middle-class households have pools. That wasn’t the case 100 years ago.
People could only swim at public pools and natural bodies of water.
During the Victorian era, people were taught how to swim on land. The thinking was that those who learned the art of swimming before hitting the water would be better prepared. It also was thought to instill confidence in those who would be frightened to learn in water. Convenience was yet another reason for the popularity of this method as few schools had pools, but the dry method could be taught anywhere, and the lessons would be an ideal form of exercise during the winter.
Students often were suspended by wires, laid stomach down on stools or used swimming machines for their lessons.
Lessons also included how to rescue a drowning person.
Competitive swimming began in the 19th century. The sport, for the most part, was male dominated. There were female swimming championships in the 1900s, but when the modern Olympics started in 1896, all the competitors were men. Women were finally allowed to compete in 1912.
In addition to methods of instruction changing, so have clothing styles. Here are some examples of early 20th century swimming costumes:
Have you ever swam competitively? Leave a comment below.
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