Swimming is an individual or team racing sport that requires the use of one’s entire body to move through water.
The sport takes place in swimming pools or in open water (in a sea or lake), over a variety of distances across four strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly, as well as a combination of the four called an Individual Medley.
In addition to these individual events, four swimmers can take part in either a freestyle or medley relay. A medley relay consists of four swimmers who will each swim a different stroke.
The goal of high level competitive swimming is to break personal or world records while beating competitors in any given event. Swimming in competition should create the least resistance in order to obtain maximum speed.
There is evidence of recreational swimming in prehistoric times has been found, with the earliest evidence dating to Stone Age paintings from around 10,000 years ago.
Competitive swimming became popular in the 19th century and has been an Olympic sport since the first modern-day games in 1986.
Originally, Olympic events were only available for men with women’s events not included until 1912. The earliest strokes used in the competition were sidestroke and breaststroke. However, over time swimmers found faster methods to move through the water and sidestroke was eventually replaced by the crawl, or as we commonly refer to it – freestyle.
Since its emergence as a competitive sport swimming has seen many technological advances with the inclusion of heated pools, goggles and race suits.
Swimming has been included in the WTG since its inception in 1978. Over the years it has increased in popularity and is now one of the most popular sports at the games. In recent years there has been a significant increase in the level of competition and the two days spent poolside now see some of the most exciting racing of the games.
Fun Fact: The World Transplant Games in Newcastle (2019) saw an incredible 91 world records broken across 2 days of competition.
Swimming provides a low impact, full body workout without stressing your body. It helps to tone muscles while building endurance and strength.
Not only is it great for your physical wellbeing, swimming is known to boost your mood and improve sleep.
It is also the one sport that can save your life!
“The World Transplant Games give me a real focus to keep fit, healthy and competitive.
It is amazing to see the swimming at the Games become more and more competitive each edition, however I love it as there is fantastic camaraderie not only shown between teammates, but also between countries and competitors.
Everyone has an amazing story and the swimming pool at the World Games provides a platform to showcase to the world what is possible in life after transplant.”
Liam Barnett, Great Britain and Northern Ireland
“Exercise is important to me. It is a way to decompress and reset. More than once I have set off on an adventure wondering if I had overestimated my abilities; my experience is that if I can dream it, I can probably do it.
Here is what I love about swimming. I love the feeling of power when you leave the blocks, and then the silence as you glide through the water waiting to start your stroke. I love the feeling of the catching the water and the glide.
I was gifted with a second chance at life. I don’t want to waste opportunities. I don’t want to look back and think, oh I should have… I want to be in the best shape possible to live as normal and healthy a life as I can. ”
Donna Hart, Canada
If you’re just getting started in the water, then consider taking swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are available for all ages, including adults and will help provide the basic foundations from which you can develop your swimming.
If you plan to compete at the World Transplant Games it is recommended that you join a local club or swimming group. Being part of a club provides a fun and social environment to progress your swimming. It’ll provide you with coached swim sessions, advice on stroke technique and also help prepare you for competition. If you’re over 18 then there is the option of joining a masters swim squad. Masters swimming aims to encompass all levels of swimming from casual fitness to highly competitive.
If joining a swim group isn’t available or you would prefer to train by yourself then there are plenty of resources online to help you progress.