In a swimming competition, the speed of the swimmers, as individuals or teams, is tested over a given distance. The earliest records of swimming competitions are traced to as early as 36 BC, in Japan during the reign of Emperor Suigiu.
Competitive swimming was included in the Olympic Games at their very inception in 1896, in Athens. It has been open to women since the 1912 edition. Since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, a total of 34 events in swimming have been existent, 17 for men and 17 for women. These competitive swimming events in the Olympics, range in all four main strokes and medley, namely freestyle in 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metres distances, 100 and 200 metres butterfly, 100 and 200 metres backstroke, 100 and 200 metres breaststroke, 200 and 400 metres individual medley, 4 X 100 metres and 4 X 200 metres relay, 4 x 100 metres medley relay and a 10 kilometre marathon.
Though India is not accomplished in swimming in the Olympics, swimming is very popular and multidimensional in the country. Swimming is also in top list for the school students to maintain the physical and mental strength. Apart from being a competitive sporting event, swimming is thoroughly enjoyed by people across the country as a recreational activity, just as the rest of the world.
In addition to the recreational parameter, swimming in India is considered an important activity in the health and body fitness sphere. People of all ages can indulge in swimming activities, as it is one of the best exercises of all the body muscles, without any need for exerting excess pressure. Regular swimming workouts help in strengthening the muscles and improve the cardio vascular fitness of a person.
Recognition of Swimming as a sport in India
Considering swimming has been a major athletic event and also part of the Olympic Games, it has gained immense popularity among the people. Swimming as a competitive sport in India is governed and promoted by the Swimming Federation of India (SFI), the apex body affiliated to the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA), the international governing body. The SFI professionally trains swimmers and conducts regular swimming events and activities, in different levels of competition. All the different state swimming associations and administering bodies are affiliated to it. It maintains all the fastest swimming and diving records of Indian swimmers in different events, for both men and women.
Swimming Federation of India
The Swimming Federation of India has many swimming centres and venues under it, which work towards training, helping and promoting young aspiring swimmers. Some of the popular centres include the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai, the Yamuna Sports Complex in Delhi, the Velachery Aquatic Complex in Chennai, the SPM Swimming Pool Complex in New Delhi and the Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre in Bengaluru.
Michael Phelps Swimming Programme
The Michael Phelps Swimming Programme was brought to India in 2015, with the impetus and developed by Cathy Bennett, the childhood coach of Michael Phelps, who is the world’s most accomplished contemporary swimmer having clinched a staggering 18 gold medals in the 2004 to 2012 Olympic Games and 26 world titles. It was brought to grow the sport of swimming and make it more prolific in the country. It trains the trainers, tying up with recreational clubs, sports clubs and schools with swimming facilities, with the long term focus of hunting and developing talents that can make it big in competitions and international levels.
Swimming has emerged as a popular and competitive sport in India, with many young potential swimmers taking it up professionally. India has had well known names in the field of swimming.