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A new world

Swimming

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A breath-taking sport, swimming has been in the Olympic Games since Athens 1896. Men and women participate in 16 events, including relays and individual competitions in four strokes – freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke.
Spectator's Guide - Swimming
  • Swimming

Countries

Athletes

Events

173 899 32

Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

Swimming

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Rio Time
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August21
Date Event Status
  • WRWorld Record
  • OROlympic Record

About

About

Aim of the game

Swimmers must complete a set distance inside the pool, in some cases using a specific swimming style, in the shortest possible time

Why should you watch this?

Chad le Clos, Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps... the Rio 2016 Olympic swimming pool will be overflowing with world-class stars, which is a recipe for record-breaking thrills

International Federation

Olympic debut

Athens 1896

Rules
  • Dolphin kick

    Dolphin kick

    Perfected by Michael Phelps, this underwater move generates a vertical wave by flexing the legs. Sometimes referred to as the 'fifth stroke', it is only permitted at the start of a race or at turns

  • Drafting

    Drafting

    When one swimmer is just behind another in an adjacent lane and uses the slipstream generated by their adversary to gain an advantage

  • Tumble turn

    Tumble turn

    Underwater somersault performed at the end of a length in backstroke and freestyle that allows swimmers to push off against the wall with their feet for the start of the next length

Impress your friends

  • Swimming has existed since the Stone Age, when people swam in rivers and lakes in search of food

    Swimming has existed since the Stone Age, when people swam in rivers and lakes in search of food

  • Olympic Games swimming competitions used to take place in open waters with ducks and fish: the River Seine was used at the Paris 1900 Games

    Olympic Games swimming competitions used to take place in open waters with ducks and fish: the River Seine was used at the Paris 1900 Games

  • Hungary's Alfréd Hajós was the first Olympic swimming champion of the modern era, winning the 100m freestyle at Athens 1896

    Hungary's Alfréd Hajós was the first Olympic swimming champion of the modern era, winning the 100m freestyle at Athens 1896

  • The first Olympic pool competitions were held at the London 1908 Games

    The first Olympic pool competitions were held at the London 1908 Games

  • Australia's Fanny Durack won the first women's Olympic gold medal, in the 100m freestyle at the Stockholm 1912 Games

    Australia's Fanny Durack won the first women's Olympic gold medal, in the 100m freestyle at the Stockholm 1912 Games

  • Equatorial Guinea's Eric Moussambani learnt to swim just 6 months before Sydney 2000: he finished the 100m freestyle in 1min 52.72sec - the winning time was 48.30sec

    Equatorial Guinea's Eric Moussambani learnt to swim just 6 months before Sydney 2000: he finished the 100m freestyle in 1min 52.72sec - the winning time was 48.30sec

  • The USA's Mark Spitz won seven gold medals at Munich 1972 – the largest tally at a single Olympic Games, until...

    The USA's Mark Spitz won seven gold medals at Munich 1972 – the largest tally at a single Olympic Games, until...

  • … Michael Phelps surpassed his countryman by taking eight gold medals at Beijing 2008, winning every competition he entered

    … Michael Phelps surpassed his countryman by taking eight gold medals at Beijing 2008, winning every competition he entered

  • The USA has dominated the pool, winning at least half the medals at almost every Olympics with Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin they look good for Rio too

    The USA has dominated the pool, winning at least half the medals at almost every Olympics with Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin they look good for Rio too

  • Australia and China are the USA's biggest rivals - Australia's James Magnussen and Cate Campbell, and China's Ye Shiwen & Sun Yang will challenge in 2016

    Australia and China are the USA's biggest rivals - Australia's James Magnussen and Cate Campbell, and China's Ye Shiwen & Sun Yang will challenge in 2016

  • Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian of all time: he won 22 medals at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, including a record number of golds: 18

    Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian of all time: he won 22 medals at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, including a record number of golds: 18

  • Before starring in 'Tarzan', Johnny Weissmuller won 5 Olympic swimming gold medals, and a bronze in water polo, at Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928 Games

    Before starring in 'Tarzan', Johnny Weissmuller won 5 Olympic swimming gold medals, and a bronze in water polo, at Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928 Games

  • USA room-mates Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer finished the 100m freestyle in a dead heat at Los Angeles 1984, sharing an unprecedented double gold

    USA room-mates Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer finished the 100m freestyle in a dead heat at Los Angeles 1984, sharing an unprecedented double gold

  • In order to reduce their times in the 50m freestyle, most Olympic swimmers complete the event without taking a breath

    In order to reduce their times in the 50m freestyle, most Olympic swimmers complete the event without taking a breath

  • Swimmers often remove body hair to be more aerodynamic

    Swimmers often remove body hair to be more aerodynamic

  • At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 96 swimming medals will be up for grabs

    At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 96 swimming medals will be up for grabs

Strokes

Freestyle: in freestyle events, swimmers can use any stroke they wish, but in practice they all opt for the crawl, which is the fastest style.

Breaststroke: a slower swimming style in which an athlete’s movements are similar to those of a frog.

Butterfly: the swimmer rotates both arms simultaneously and flexes the body up and down in a manner reminiscent of a dolphin: indeed, the leg movement is known as a ‘dolphin kick’. 

Backstroke: lying on their backs, swimmers count their strokes to stay aware of where they are in the pool, and towards the end of the length glance over at flags positioned 5m from the end wall.

Events

In addition to individual events for each of the four swimming styles, there are relay events contested by teams of four swimmers, and medley events (individual and relay) which combine all four styles in a single race.

Start

The pool is divided into eight competition lanes, each 2.5m wide. Most events start from starting blocks, the exception being backstroke, in which swimmers start from inside the pool.

Swimmers must not dive in before the starting pistol is fired – if this happens, a false start is declared and the swimmer at fault is disqualified.

In the event of a false start, a cord falls into the water 15m from the start, indicating to the swimmers that they should stop.

Kit

All swimmers wear a cap, goggles and a swimsuit – normally swimming trunks for men and swimming costumes for women.

Equipment

Electronic sensors sensitive to the lightest touch are fixed onto the end walls of the pool and provide precision timing to within a hundredth of a second.

Updates

Athletes

Athletes & Teams

Gender

Gender
Woman 46
Men 54
Women
Men

Age Range

Age Range
Under 15 1
16 - 20 29
21 - 25 48
26 - 30 19
31 - 40 3
Over 40 0
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