The History of Swimming Pools

I know people think that the advent of swimming pools began when the housing boom began in the 1950s. But actually, swimming pools date back to over 5000 years ago. The “Great Bath” in Mohenjodaro was the earliest public water tank in the ancient world. The Greeks and Romans then used pools as a standard of luxury in the 6th-8thcenturies. In addition, they were also used to train the military for war.

The Early Years

Some of the competitive swimming strokes that we see today date back to the 1800s when man made indoor pools appeared in London, and were used to swimming competitions. Throughout the 1800s, these strokes were perfected with the addition of speed, and swimming was included in the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896.

Coming to America

In the 1910s, the first inground pool in the United States was built in Texas, known as the Deep Eddy. It was a popular resort back in the 1920s and is still maintained today by the City of Austin. The first above ground pool in the world was located in Philadelphia (The Philadelphia Racquet Club) and dates back to 1907.

Swimming Pools Go Mainstream

After World War II, swimming pools became mainstream as a status symbol, partly because of Hollywood movies. As the idea of the American Dream spread, so did the popularity of pools, because many homeowners realized this was a viable purchase with the ability to take a vacation in your own backyard. Today, there are more than 10 million swimming pools across the United States with more than 360,000 that are open to the public.

Swimming Pool Fun Facts

So now that you know the history behind the swimming pool, here are a few fun facts:

  • President Gerald Ford had the outdoor swimming pool built at the White House in 1975. In 1976, a pool house was added — with a secret, underground passage that lets the First Family and their guests to get from the White House to the pool without going outside.

  • Swim fins were invented by Benjamin Franklin

  • The first swimming pool to go to sea on an ocean liner was installed on the White Star Line's Adriatic in 1907.

  • The first recorded swimming races were held in Japan in 36 B.C.

  • An Olympic size pool depending on its size (50 meters X 25 yards or meters) can hold from 700,000 to 850,000 gallons of water.

  • Florida is the only state with legislation on who can teach swimming. Life guards and swimming instructors must, by law, be certified.

  • The bikini swimsuit was named after a U.S. nuclear testing site in the South Pacific called Bikini Atoll.

  • 65% of people in the U.S. don’t know how to swim.