Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) is the governing body of the international competitive swimming. According to FINA, competitive swimming has started hundreds of years ago, but it was fits recorded in 19th century.
Competitive swimming has become one of the most demanded sports during the last decades. Men and women compete in order to record faster time in the swimming pool.
It was Great Britain that first developed competitive swimming as a real sport and started to organize different competitions during 1837. Already in 1896 it was one of the Olympic sports (it was intended only for men, for 100 or 1500 meters freestyle).
Nowadays this sport is widely spread among men, women and children. There are 4 strokes available in competitive swimming – freestyle, backstrokes, butterfly and breaststroke. Medley – is the combination of all 4 styles.
Freestyle stroke allows the swimmer to choose any stroke. While there are hardly any limitations, but the most commonly used stroke is the crawl. During the crawl the swimmer’s arms are stroked over the surface combined with flutter kicks up and down.
The second type of stroke, backstroke, includes motion of the arms and at the same time with a flutter kick (the athlete is on his back). When the swimmer reaches the end of the pool, he/ she can rotate to the stomach in order to turn around and continue the race.
The third type, probably the most beautiful one, is the butterfly style. While implementing dolphin kick, the arms are simultaneously moved over the water. The legs of the swimmer are kept together. When the swimmer turns or reaches the finish both hands should touch the wall at the same time.
The last stroke, breaststroke, reminds of a frog. The arms are moved simultaneously on the same plane (horizontal) while the hands are pressed from breast to front (the action takes place both on the surface of water or under the surface). Like in butterfly style, in breaststroke, the swimmer should also touch the wall with both hands when turning or finishing the race.
During the competition the participants are mainly divided into competing groups based on their age and achievements. For younger participants – the groups are mainly consisting of children aged up to 10 years old (or 8 in some cases), 11-12, 13-14, etc. up to 18. The senior events, as a rule, do not follow the similar logic.
The group competitions also consider age and achievements of group members. The sportsmen are competing in long (50 meter pool) or short (25 meter pool) courses. The difference here is that participants can power up more in the short courses as they reach the wall more often.
The distance varies a lot: it can be 50 meter, 100 meter, 200 meter, or even 800/1600 meters for freestyle (women/men). For each stroke special rules have been prepared in order to ensure the fair and equitable conditions for all the participants. This is also done for the promotion of uniformity within the swimmers.