Olympic Sport Lowdown: Swimming

By Lindsey Last edited 94 months ago
Olympic Sport Lowdown: Swimming

The Aquatic Centre is one of the icons of the Olympic Park and rightly so as it will host 192 events: Olympic swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, Paralympic swimming and the swimming part of the Modern Pentathlon. On top of that there's the big 10k swim in Hyde Park and Water Polo in the arena next door. Aquatic sports were one of the first to sell out in the initial round of Olympic ticketing. It's a big deal for 2012.

Did you know the London 1908 Games were the first to host swimming events in a pool - albeit a 100m one - rather than in open water?

So how do all those events break down?

Well, there are Olympic competitions for the four strokes: Breaststroke, Backstroke, Butterfly and Freestyle (ie front crawl) raced over distances from 50m to 1500m for men and women. There are also individual medley competitions involving all four strokes in one race and team medley and freestyle relays.

Remember: Beijing 2008 made Rebecca Adlington a household name when she won two gold medals in one week at her debut Olympics.

Paralympic competitions also involve the four strokes, over different distances, plus individual and relay medleys. Paralympians compete in 14 classes which relate to the type and extent of their disability, and ensures they race against their peers.

How did we do? Team GB brought home 41 swimming medals from the Beijing Paralympics, including the two gold medals from teenage swimming star, Ellie Simmonds, ranking Great Britain fourth on the swimming medal table.

The open water 10k swim is the newest Olympic event, having made its debut in Beijing 2008 with Great Britain scooping a silver in the men's and silver and bronze in the women's race. London 2012 sees the Swimming Marathon swum in the Serpentine, Hyde Park (that's six laps of the lake).

Great news! Keri-Anne Payne has already qualified to represent Great Britain in the women's race next year, after taking gold at the World Championships in Shanghai this summer.

Synchronised swimming might be on of the most amazing displays of artistry, athleticism, bouyancy and endurance you'll ever see and it made its Olympic debut at the 1984 LA Games. Evolved from the water ballet spectacles of the 1930s, it's a women only sport. At London 2012, the competition will be for pairs and teams of eight.

Did you know? When Team GB fielded Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison in Beijing 2008, they became the first British synchronised swimmers to compete at an Olympic Games for 16 years.

This video from 2010 gives you some idea of what it's like to be a synchronised swimmer:

To find out more visit British Swimming.

But we're not finished with Aquatics yet - still to come, the lowdown on Diving and Water Polo.

Get the Londonist lowdown on all Olympic and Paralympic sports in the lead up to London 2012.

Last Updated 17 October 2011