History and Importance of Bath in Ancient Times
By Martina Voriskova
Proceedings of the 15th International Seminar on Olympic Studies for Postgraduate Students (2007)
Introduction: The Ancient Times as well as the Pre-ancient Times is some kind of “jumping-off point” for swimming. This time deserves a special attention and awareness from the people. At this time people achieved the meaning of swimming, got acquainted with it and they started to use swimming. Till now there is a lot of ancient heritage kept in the form of paintings, residues of ancient Baths and literature which treats the relation between people and the water.
Physical training achieved the biggest boom in Ancient Greece. The sea which was the main communications network connecting Greece with the numerous settlements in the area where now is France, south Italy, etc contributed also to this fact. The sea, a mysterious Poseidon’s empire, was the connecting line of the whole area which formed Ancient Greece. Therefore, swimming art was an essential prerequisite for Greek sailors, tradesmen, pilgrims and athletes coming from the whole world to participate in Olympic and other Greek games.
The Olympic Games has been the most famous and the most observed competition and event for swimmers from all around the world. They were renewed in the year 1896. Swimming was included in the program of the first Olympic Games which took place in Athens, Greece. There was only one event called “swimming” and the event’s length which should be broken by the competitors.
Everyone swam using his own style. The Olympic program in swimming was developing and changing progressively. We can take for example some events which were initially included, like the event “underwater swimming” and others. It’s very interesting that the status of swimming has been changing during the history. For instance in Ancient Greece swimming art belonged –together with literacy– to basic education. This is reflected in a phrase describing a man with disdain who can “neither swim nor read”. In Ancient Olympic Games the swimming program wasn’t included, and in the middle Ages swimming was turned down completely.