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Swimming and diving are among the oldest sports in the world... and synchronised swimming one of the youngest!

There is evidence from as far back as 2500 BC that the Ancient Egyptians swam for pleasure, if not competition, and records show that 2,000 years later, the Romans listed diving into the sea from the cliffs as one of their sporting pastimes.

It was the Romans who introduced swimming to Britain as a 'manly social pursuit' in the first century AD and later on, in medieval times, knights were urged to master the not inconsiderable art of swimming in armour.

Swimming became a fashionable leisure pursuit in the reign of George III and as the sport grew more popular, competitive events were introduced, including races on the River Thames in London.

In 1844, a year before the first official swimming championship was staged in Sydney, a team of Red Indian swimmers from North America gave British enthusiasts their first glimpse of a windmill-like stroke that eventually developed into the crawl.

Thirty-one years later, Matthew Webb became the first man to swim the English Channel and when the Olympic Games were revived at Athens in 1896, swimming was one of the major sports, with women participating from 1912.

Diving developed as a competitive sport alongside swimming although until the mid-1800s, it was a strictly orthodox event. Then teams of Swedish and German acrobats developed the sport of artistic diving and the first competitive event was held in Germany in 1885.

Swimming and diving have continued to be an integral part of any major Games and were among the six sports included in the first Commonwealth Games in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930.

However, synchronised swimmers are very much new kids on the block, even though synchronised swimming was developed in America at the start of the 20th century. It was not until the Los Angeles Games of 1984 that it became an Olympic event, appearing at the Commonwealth Games two years later.

The Australians have consistantly been dominant in the pool at every Games but one since 1938. Canada had a brief success in 1978 but by 1998 Australia were winning 28 more aquatics medals than any other team.

In fact the swimming medals have been shared almost exclusivly between Australia, England and Canada since the very first Games.

Whatever your aquatic penchant, spectators at the new and widely acclaimed Manchester Aquatics Centre are guaranteed non-stop spectacular action when the Games gets under way. So count yourself in!

Useful Links

Amateur Swimming Federation of Great Britain

*Aquatics Schedule
*Diving Results
*Swimming Results
*Synchro Results
*Synchronised Swimming
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