Swimming Athletes’ Performance And Records

Swimming first emerged as a competitive sport in the 1830s in England. It gained popularity over the course of the 19th century, and in 1896, men’s swimming became part of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Today it is one of the most popular Olympic sports and it is said to be the one of the sports that brings the most physical and mental health benefits. In addition to being a low-impact workout that can be practiced by individuals of various ages, it is a sport that builds endurance and muscle strength, while also promoting cardiovascular fitness and weight loss. 

I have been a competitive swimmer myself for over 8 years and after attending state, regional and national championships, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my technique and overall performance in swimming. By observing professional swimmers who have attended the Olympics and World Championships, I have noticed that most swimmers are quite tall, which has led me to wonder if there could be a correlation between swimmers’ heights and their performances. It has also caught my eye that out of all the elite swimmers, the ones that are usually on top, winning gold, silver and bronze medals, are those from more developed countries such as the USA, Germany, China, and Australia. This could be because countries that have higher GDP’s are able to invest more in their sports, and the new training methods and technological advancements are able to be applied to improve their athletes’ performances. If this is true, could there also be a correlation between countries’ GDP’s and swimmers’ performances?

When swimming was first introduced to the Olympics, the only stroke athletes were allowed to swim was freestyle. As the sport progressed, more strokes were developed and today there are events in four different strokes: butterfly, backstroke, freestyle and as a combination of all four, individual medley. Since swimming started as an official Olympic sport, people have been keeping track of world records, which are set when a swimmer gives the best performance ever recorded in a specific event. 

Throughout the past few decades, training methods, diets and many other factors have been evolving which have allowed for world records to become progressively harder to break. It is quite obvious that it is physically impossible for someone to ever swim an event in 0 seconds or even in less than 10 seconds (the 50m events, for instance, which are usually swum in just over 20 seconds). 

So how fast could a swimmer possibly swim? I believe the best event to predict a record for, is the 400m individual medley, because it is the most complete swimming event there is, combining endurance with all four strokes. 

09 March 2021
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