The Ancient History of Swimming Pools

Posted on: July 19, 2013 by James Staten

With all the filters, decorations, and accessories available, it’s tempting to think of swimming pools as a modern convenience. However, the truth is that swimming has fascinated the human race for centuries. In fact, the history of swimming dates back all the way to ancient Egypt. Though our ancestors lacked electricity, they were able to indulge themselves in many of the comforts that we enjoy today – including a heated swimming pool! So how did this ancient tradition evolve into the pool that we’re all familiar with today?

The First Swimming Pools

The oldest documented record of a swimming pool dates back to 2500 B.C. in Egypt, quickly spreading to surrounding civilizations, such as Greece, Rome, and Assyria. In many of these societies, swimming lessons were a part of elementary education for young boys. Bricks and wooden planks held the pools together, measuring approximately 12 meters across and 7 meters wide. The depth of the pool at its deepest was 2.4 meters. Gypsum plaster constructed the body of the pool to keep the water from leaking out.

From Religion to Competition

Most scholars agree that the first swimming pools were originally used for religious functions. The pools were likely used to purify people from their sickness and were often bathing locations for the masses. It is believed that the Greek and Roman militaries used swimming pools as training grounds to prepare their militaries and naval fleets for war. This was considered part of their proper education and was as mandatory as mathematics, astronomy, and writing.

In first century B.C., Gaius Maecenas built the world’s first heated swimming pool, helping the pool evolve into the luxury item it is today. By the 1800s, the National Swimming Society was formed in Britain, turning swimming into a competitive sport. In 1896, Olympic pools and swimming were introduced to the Olympic games.

After World War II and with the increased dominance of Hollywood, swimming pools became more mainstream in America. Now, more and more homeowners are renovating their backyards to add swimming pools for a greater sense of luxury and comfort in their lives. Swimming pools are found all over the world, making their popularity as rich as their ancient heritage!

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