People have been swimming since prehistoric times. Drawings have been found showing humans making movements that may have resembled some swimming styles including the breaststroke and dog paddle.
It has been said that the skill of swimming may have helped the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis. The Japanese held the first known swimming races in 36 B.C., as swimming was a noble skill. In the early 1600's, Japan created the first national swimming organization.
Swimming is believed to have become a sport of the English in the early 1800’s. It was not a component of the ancient Olympic Games. Swimming was practiced around the world, though it did not become part of the Olympics until 1896, when swimmers competed by swimming toward a finish line in the Saronic Gulf. Until 1912, women were not invited to participate in these events.
In the Middle Ages, knights had to have seven agilities, one of them being the ability to swim. Because the swimmers were showing skin, it was later omitted when the society of knights became more conservative.