Early humans learnt to swim in order to cross rivers and lakes – we know this because cave paintings from the Stone Age depicting swimmers have been found in Egypt. Swimming was also referred to in Greek mythology. Swimming was not widely practised until the early 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain began to hold competitions. Most early swimmers used the breaststroke, or a form of it.

Swimming has featured on the programme of all editions of the Games since 1896. The very first Olympic events were freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was added in 1904. Women’s swimming debuted at Stockholm 1912. Since then, it has been part of every edition of the Games. The men’s and women’s programmes are almost identical, as they contain the same number of events, with only one difference: the freestyle distance is 800 metres for women and 1,500 metres for men.

400 Athletes (200 women and 200 men)

Women / Men / 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle, 200m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, 800m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 100m Backstroke, 200m Backstroke, 50m Breaststroke, 100m Breaststroke, 200m Breaststroke, 50m Butterfly, 100m Butterfly, 200m Butterfly, 200m Medley Relay, 4x100m Freestyle Relay, 4x100m Medley Relay, 4x100 m Mixed Team Freestyle Relay, 4x100m Mixed Team Medley Relay



Individual events of 50m and 100m: consist of Heats, Semifinals and Final phases.


Individual events of 200m and 400m: consist of Heats and Final phases.


Individual events of 800m: consist of direct Finals.


Team Relay events: consist of Heats and Final phases. For each relay race a team consists of four swimmers.

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