History of Aquatics
In 1896, swimming became an Olympic sport for men with the 100 metres and 1500 metres freestyle competitions held in open water. Soon after, as swimming gained popularity, more freestyle events were included, followed by the backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, and lastly, the individual medley.
For a variety of reasons, women were excluded from swimming in the first several Olympic Games. In 1896 and again in 1906, women could not participate because the developer of the modern games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, held firmly to the assumption, common in the Victorian era, that women were too frail to engage in competitive sports. It was only at the 1912 Games when women’s swimming made its debut at the prompting of the group that later became known as the International Olympic Committee. There are now thirty two events, sixteen each for men and women.
In 1902 Richard Cavill introduced the front crawl to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), was formed. Butterfly was developed in the 1930s and was at first a variant of breaststroke, until it was accepted as a separate style in 1952.
Water Polo became an Olympic sport in 1900. The first rules of the sport were written by a Scot, William Wilson, in 1887. Water polo as a team sport began as a demonstration of strength and swimming skill in late 19th century in England and Scotland, where water sports and racing exhibitions were a feature of county fairs and festival. Men's water polo was the among the first team sports introduced at the modern Olympic games in 1900.
Competitive diving dates from 1893 and it has been part of the Olympic Games since 1904. Divers enter the water from springboards and rigid diving platforms at various heights, making somersaults and twists before entering the water. They are awarded points for skill and elegance.
Although first demonstrated at the 1952 Olympic Games, synchronised swimming did not become an official Olympic sport until the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. It was not until 1968 that synchronised swimming became officially recognized by FINA as the fourth water sport next to swimming, platform diving and water polo.