The History Of Swimming Pools

Posted on the January 11th, 2017 under Friends by Laurence Pharoah

The Ancient Greeks.

The Greek philosopher Plato placed as much importance on children learning to swim in a swimming pool as he did on them learning mathematics or philosophy saying: “A man is not learned until he can read, write and swim“. If a Greek man could neither read nor swim they were considered ignorant by their fellows.

Swimming pools were used in Ancient Greece for training warriors to improve fitness and in preparation should the trireme sailing ship that they were on was sunk. Often swimming pools would adjoin training facilities and barracks for warriors to facilitate training and as a place to rinse the days’ exertions away. The Greeks were rather prurient about bathing, unlike their counterparts the Romans. Some Ancient Greeks believed that a bath should only be administered at birth, marriage and death. Swimming pools were also used by the ancient Greeks as communal places where the well to do of Athens would congregate.

The Ancient Romans.

Later the Romans would take the open plan of the communal pools that the Greeks loved and improved them dramatically. With the use of thermal springs the romans would create extravagant bath houses clothed in marble and decorated with ornate statues and frescoes. As the peoples of Rome became wealthy they would commission architecturally designed swimming pools that would be a focal point for feasts and even orgiastic activity. These opulent swimming pools catered for the ultra-elite of Rome. Business and pleasure in equal measure were pursued in the heated waters. Whilst the Romans raised the practice of swimming pools and bath houses to that of a fine art not seen again until Victorian England they were not the first humans to design swimming pools that would cater to the masses.

The Indus Great Bath.

The Indus people of what is now known as Pakistan were masters of water, being credited with the first toilet and fresh running water more than 2000 year before the Romans built aqueducts and the invention of Archimedes screw. Around 2,500BC the Indus created a large swimming pool now known as the Great Bath, located in at Mohenjo-daro in Sindh, Pakistan. This was ostensibly a public swimming pool where local people would gather and bathe. The Great Bath was constructed from stone and clay, lined with bituminous tar to ensure it would hold water. The Great Bath was unearthed in the 1920’s and stands as a testament to the Indus people’s mastery of water.

For a long time after the fall of the Roman Empire at around 500AD the state of science suffered and ignorance and superstition darkened the human psyche. The luxuries of Rome were lost. Uncleanliness was common place and with it came disease and death. Truly the dark ages.

Victorian England

1937 was the year that Queen Victoria was crowned, by which time there were 6 public swimming pools erected in London. The resurgence of interest in swimming was inspired by a growing mastery in water management by the English. It also came after a spate of drowning deaths. The classically trained English aristocracy took Plato’s words to heart and commissioned the architectural design and construction of great public swimming pools. These pools were met with great interest and celebration in England with water borne high teas being served in the pool, culminating with the upending of the floating platform upon which the high tea was situated to the great amusement of those present.

As general levels of wealth increased so too did swimming pool construction. Many wealthy socialites would have swimming pools built for the edification of their friends and families.

The Olympic Games.

Swimming is now an international event, viewed by billions of people worldwide every four years at the Olympic Games. The first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens also featured swimming events. These events were not held in a swimming pool, as the sub-committee for nautical sports could not afford to build a custom swimming pool. Instead these first competitive races were conducted in the ocean, at the Bay of Zea. Only four nations competed in the event, being Hungary, Greece, Austria and the United States of America. The Austrians dominated events and the USA did not win a single medal. A far cry from the modern medal standings of Michael Phelps who has won more swimming gold medals individually than Greece and Austria together.

Modern Swimming Pools

Today over 1.2 million Australian homes have a swimming pool. We teach our children to swim before they can walk and value the camaraderie that gathering friends and families around a beautiful swimming pool gives us. Just like the ancient Greeks we see swimming pools as an indispensable aspect of modern life, as important as the ability to read or write. If you need a modern swimming pool built by Pool Builders Brisbane then click here for more information.

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The History Of Swimming Pools
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The History Of Swimming Pools
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Here is a brief history of swimming pools from Ancient Greeks through to modern times.
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