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olympic swimming
2016 Olympic swimming fast facts

Venue: Rio Aquatic Center

: August 6 – August 13, 2016

Competitors: 900

For centuries, swimming and diving have been some of the 'splashiest" spectator sports dating back to ancient Greece. Today, water is the main draw at the the Summer Olympic where swim meets -- and aquatic and Olympic diving venues -- remain home to the most popular events among any at the games.

However, fans may be surprised to learn that Olympic swimmers weren't always treated like the sports heroes that they are today. At the first modern Olympics in 1896, the swimmers were dumped into the water from a yacht — and required to swim to shore for their share of Olympic gold.

Thankfully, the sport no longer treats modern Olympians like a barrel of fish!

Yet the drama and excitement survive as talented swimmers from around the world battle for position with other world class athletes at the Olympic Games.

In 2016, 900 swimmers meet in Rio to compete in more than 30 events over distances ranging from 50m to 1500m.

Events include freestyle, breastroke, butterfly, and backstroke races, along with medley events where athletes are tested to the limit by combining all four strokes during a furious swim to the finish line.

Team USA

Michael Phelps
USA swimming champs
Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte

Arriving on the world scene during the 2004 Sydney games, American star performer Michael Phelps continued to break records around the world leading up to the Beijing Games in 2008.

Phelps not only led his team to victory in 2008, but ultimately eclipsed the seven-gold medal champion Mark Spitz by taking a record eight golds in Beijing.

The excitment was far from over, however, as Phelps was about to break even more Olympic records in London during the 2012 Games. -- to officially become the greatest Olympian ever after winning his 19th medal in the 4x200m relay -- beating the record set by Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina, who won 18 medals.

Meanwhile, also watch for six-time medalist Ryan Lochte to attempt to steal some of Phelp's thunder as he goes up against the superstar swimmer in a battle of the titans in Rio this summer.

Elsewhere around the Web, dive into a world of resources with more information on Olympic swimming events and schedules, as well as the star athletes who will once again dazzle spectators during the 2016 Summer Games....

Olympic swimming fun facts:

Greek swimmer Alfréd Hajós, the
first Olympic swimming champion.

• Swimming appeared at the very first Summer Olympics in 1896 and featured the 100-meter, 500-meter, 1,200-meter and 100-meter "sailors freestyle." There were only 13 participants representing 4 countries – USA, Hungary, Greece, and Austria.

• At the 1922 Olympic Games, American Johnny Weissmuller was the first swimmer to break the 60 second barrier in the 100 meter freestyle competition. Weissmuller later "went Hollywood" to star in 12 Tarzan movies. (And, just for contrast, the current world record is now 46.91 seconds.)

• Nothing if not modest, male swimmers wore full bodysuits in the Olympics until 1940.

• The hands down winners, Team USA won every event in the swimming competition during the 1948 Olympics.

• For a straightforward sport, swimming requires a total of 7 different officials to be present. They include the referee, starter, clerk of course (responsible for organizing swimmers into heats based on their times), timekeeper, inspectors of turns, judges of strokes, and finish judges.


More about Olympic swimming & aquatic events around the Web:

International Olympic Committee - Swimming - Get great coverage of both swimming and Aquatics for all of the teams including list of events, photo gallery, multiimedia presentation, technical details and related glossary.

BBC - Olympics - Swimming - Check out the latest updates, photo galleries & video, and if you're a novice swimming fan also don't miss the excellent beginner's guide...

USA Swimming - The official Team USA site with excellent coverage of US issues and swimmers offering a good look behind the scenes with the team as they compete. Results, athlete photos & bios, and lots more updated often.

Swimming World Magazine - You'll find all the Team USA Olympics information you want on this online version of the print magazine with updates on team members, the coaches and other diving and swimming updates.


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