Swimming is the art of self-support or self-movement, by means of hands and feet, in or on the water, generally practiced as a sport or means of recreation. Because human beings do not swim instinctively, techniques of this mode of self-propulsion must be acquired. Unlike other land animals that propel themselves through water by what is essentially a form of walking, human beings have developed a varied series of strokes and body movements that propel them through water with great rapidity and power and that are the basis for the evolution of competitive swimming as a sport.
Swimming may take place in any body of water large enough to allow free movement and not too hot, cold, or turbulent. Currents and tides may render swimming hazardous, but they also serve as a challenge to the strength and courage of swimmers, as in the various successful efforts to swim the English Channel. Swimming was highly esteemed in ancient Greece and Rome, especially as a form of training for warriors. Competitions were held in Japan in the 1st century BC. Swimming fell into disuse almost entirely, however, in Europe in the Middle Ages when immersion in water was associated with the recurrent epidemic diseases of the time. By the 19th century that prejudice was dispelled, and by the 20th century swimming had become known not only as a means of survival or saving lives in emergencies, but as a valuable tool in physical therapy and as the most beneficial form of general exercise. No other form of exercise uses so many muscles in the body so fully. In addition, greater affluence and improved building and heating techniques have enormously increased the number of indoor and outdoor swimming pools constructed for public use worldwide; and the private pool, once a symbol of exceptional privilege, is now more common.
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Created By: Vinh Nguyen