top of page

The History of Swimming

Each week we will be posting a "History of Swimming" segment on the website - this will be a race video, a story or some information to keep you engaged in the sport.


If you have anything specific you'd like us to cover don't hesitate to drop us an email -

Week 6: Stop The Clocks & Judge For Yourself!

This week’s history of swimming relates more to the changes in the sport over the years and the event that changed them. Watch the video linked below to find out something you probably never knew and how it links to one of our previous articles. 

Also have a watch of the swimming from the 60s and see what differences you can spot to today in terms of stroke style, equipment and skills. 

Week 5: Spitz Sets The Bar

This weeks history of swimming is about the man who set the bar for individual medal hauls at the Olympic Games – while we know Michael Phelps broke the record for 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, the record he broke had stood for 36 years.

Mark Spitz arrived at the 1972 Olympics games in Munich sporting a controversial moustache and a controversial goal – he planned to claim 7 Gold medals. 

Spitz had fallen short at the previous games in Mexico City where he walked away with 2 golds, 1, silver and 1 bronze. In a drive to allow himself the best chance he entered 14 races at the Munich Games. 

Watch the video below to hear Spitz’s own thought and watch some footage of swimmers wearing what we would consider training trunk and no caps or goggles.

Picture Spitz .png

Week 4: Anthony Ervin is the Comeback King

Picture 1.png

“Winning is not the goal. Winning is just evidence of what you have done.” – Anthony Ervin

A special thank you to coach Danny for suggesting this week’s history of swimming. 


This week’s history of swimming concerns an Anthony Ervin an American sprinter who came to prominence at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games winning gold in a time of 21.98. He also swam in the 4 x 100 FC relay taking home the silver in a team that includes Jason Lezak who was talked about in our previous History of Swimming.

However, in 2003 Ervin abruptly quit swimming at the age of 22 – Ervin had lost his love for the sport and was suffering what he called “simmers burnout”. During this time Ervin hit rock bottom, he struggled with addiction and lost direction with his life and it looked for a long time that Ervin would never return to the sport. 

12 years after winning his Olympic Gold Ervin return to competing against all odds – in the 2012 US Olympic Trials Ervin swam a lifetime best 21.60 to finish second at the age of 32. This qualified him for the 2012 London Olympic games where he finished 5th.

What followed is undoubtedly the greatest Olympic comeback of all time – in 2016 in Rio at the age of 36 Ervin won the 50 FC in a time of 21.40 making him the oldest ever individual swimming medalist taking the record from Michael Phelps. 

Below are some videos of Ervin racing and of him talking about his comeback – 

Week 3: One 0.01 is All It Takes

Hi Guys, 


Welcome to this week’s history of swimming lesson for the week.


One 0.01 is all it takes… 

This week’s history in swimming comes from the 2008 Beijing Olympic games where Michael Phelps was marching his way to history and a record-breaking 8 gold medals. This is the story of how he won medal number 7. 

Many would argue that despite Phelps impressive haul in the build up to the event that Cavic was, in fact, the favourite behind the blocks. What happened next is still considered one of the most controversial finishes in swimming history.  

12 years later any controversy around the result seems to have faded and been lost in the legacy of Phelps phenomenal swimming career but at the time the result to this race certainly raised some eyebrows with many swearing to have seen Cavic touch first… 


You can watch the video and decide for yourself… 

Week 2: Lezak on the Anchor

Hi Guys, 


Welcome to this week’s history of swimming lesson for the week.


If you asked the coaches for their favourite all-time swims this one would rank very highly with all of them. 

The pursuit of Michael Phelps’ 8th Olympic Gold was the biggest story going into this race but as the entered the French team looked to have the edge leading to one of the greatest finishes in Olympic history. 

Heading into the final leg France had a lead that looked unassailable and only a super-human effort would stop them from taking home the Gold. Up stepped Jason Lezak, a man who over the course of 46.06 seconds carved his name into the history books and into swimming folklore. 

Week 1: Ledecky in London

Hi team, 


Welcome to your history in swimming lesson for the week 


This week we're sharing an important video from swimming history.



This week is quite a long one but it's a great race to watch and it's an important moment in swimming history and an example of how sticking to your race plan is important. 


This race is the 800m Freestyle from the London 2012 Olympics - this race was seen to be one of the hallmark events for Team GB and Rebecca Adlington was very much expected to win this event at her favoured distance but had to settle for bronze in the end.

This event instead became the launching point for Katie Ledecky to global notoriety in the swimming world.

The then 15-year-old took off at an alarming pace shocking her fellow finalists - many of whom changed their race styles and plans to try and combat the American. If you listen to the video you can hear how shocked the commentary team are at the thought of Ledecky stepping up and winning.


The race is a fantastic example of why believing in yourself, your training and your race plan despite what others think pays off - Ledecky has gone on to incredible things in the sport of swimming (and she only turned 23 this week!). 

bottom of page