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From Water Babies To Gold Medalists

Aug 12, 2008
For the first time in over twenty years, a British Olympic swimmer has won a gold medal for her part in the Olympics swimming events. Rebecca Adlington has trained long and hard for this moment and spends much of her time in swimming baths. But what is the fascination for this sport and is the interest in it a new thing?

It is said that swimming as an organised event reaches as far back as 2500BC in Egypt and later in Greece, Assyria and Rome. It also became part of a boys education as a way of keeping them strong and fit for battle.

Swimming baths were entirely separate from the public baths that were used for physical cleanliness and socialising. In fact, it is believed that the first heated swimming bath was built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the first century BC. This, however, did not automatically mean popularity.

It wasn't until the mid 19th Century that swimming as a past time became more favoured. By 1837, there were six indoor pools within London and swimming races were included in Olympic events after 1896, meaning that the call for swimming baths everywhere for Olympic hopefuls to practice in was loud.

Nowadays, there is virtually no town left in the UK without public swimming baths. These are generally used for exercise and to encourage this many swimming baths will hold specifically planned events such as aqua aerobics. This is popular with the elderly and infirm, as well as those who are a little self conscious or recovering from injuries. Water based exercise is beneficial in that the water supports you and also gives your muscles something to work against without too much strain.

All rehabilitation centres now recognise the benefits of water based therapy in that they have swimming baths where they can carry out water based physiotherapy. This has had proven results for injured soldiers and for those with muscle wasting diseases.

Public swimming baths also hold private and public swimming lessons for people of all ages to help them gain confidence in the water and you can even learn to scuba dive at a lot of pools these days. Most pools will be open to the public on a Saturday morning, frequently holding special events for children such as the use of inflatable's and supervised games. This is to encourage children away from the computer games and into activity that will help keep them healthy and avoid the ever growing problem of childhood obesity.

Swimming baths run events for new babies and their parents to get the child used to the water, the smells and the noise that accompanies a local pool. Whole areas are set aside in leisure pools for families that consist of water flumes, rapids, currents and fountains as well as wave machines all in order to make staying active as fun as possible.

It is now possible to stay in a swimming pool complex all day with these activities plus the fact that many of them also come with sauna and steam rooms, spa's and poolside relaxation areas.

It has also become popular among those that can afford it to install a swimming pool in their own home or garden. These are usually of limited size and take a great deal of maintenance which is very important to ensure bugs are not breeding in the water, making the users sick.

And so it has come about that from the early years of a body of water not being much fun to everybody wanting to own their own and actually having it symbolise health and vitality.
About the Author
Fitness expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way swimming baths have become inportant in the fight against obesity.
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