Swimming appears in many cultures over the course of history, and over the years numerous weird and wonderful facts have appeared online.
If you’re curious as to what pool and swimming insights are out there, take a look at our favourite 11 random facts about swimming to find out more. Who knows, you may even find a new appreciation for the sport.
Kangaroos are excellent swimmers
Although they might not look like natural born swimmers, Kangaroos are comfortable in deep water. They use their strong legs to propel them forward in a doggy-paddle like motion. Swimming is the only time they move their hind legs independently. When on land, they only ever move their hind legs together.
Half of Americans and a quarter of British can’t swim
It might be second nature to a lot of us but a study by the red cross in 2014 found that almost half of Americans couldn’t swim or perform basic swim safety skills.
Another study in the UK found that a quarter of British people can’t swim to a primary school standard.
Olympic-sized pools hold enough water to fill 9400 baths
That’s a lot of baths!
Hair Creates Friction In Water
That is why professional swimmers wear swim caps. Lots of swimmers, male and female also chose to shave or wax their arms or legs to make them more streamlined. It creates less friction, which allows them to move faster!
Breaststroke is the oldest stroke
Old cave drawings allegedly depict cavemen swimming in a breaststroke style and it is widely known as the oldest stroke.
The butterfly is an adaptation of breaststroke where swimmers noticed that it was quicker to recover your arms above the water than through it. Swimmers used to use breaststroke legs with butterfly arms until in 1950 when it was defined as its own stroke with its own set of rules by the governing board FINA.
Swimming goggles weren’t always made of rubber
In the 1300’s the first swimming goggles were made from tortoise shells, invented by Persian pearl divers. The first rubber goggles were made in the 1930s, but swimmers weren’t allowed to use them in competitions until 1970 as they were seen as an ‘aid’. Some very advanced goggles now can provide heart rate and have GPS functionality.
Babies in water
Babies instinctively hold their breath and open their eyes under water, this is called the bradycardic response. They also reflexively move their arms and legs so it looks like they’re swimming – don’t be fooled though, babies cannot swim!
You can’t wear a wetsuit to swim the English channel
For a swim across the English Channel to be officially recognised you can’t wear a wetsuit. This can make the swim very cold! Back in the day swimmers would lather themselves in goose fat and lanolin to keep them warm, nowadays swimmers use a thin layer of Vaseline.
Other rules include no physical contact with any human during the swim, any food or medicine needs to be handled by a pole!
The first woman to swim the channel was in 1926
The first woman to swim the English Channel is Gertrude Ederle in 1926, she was just 20 years old at the time. Only 5 men had swum it before her and it took her 14 hours and 39 minutes, beating the record of the fastest man by almost 2 hours. She wore a 2 piece (controversial for the time!) and ate chicken legs along the way.
I hope these insane facts about swimming have entertained you. If you’re feeling inspired to jump in the pool, grab a pair of swim freak goggles and take the plunge!