Many believe that the swimming pool is a British invention of the 19th century. The origins of the swimming pool however are more ancient than what most people think. When you look around the web these days, you will find various versions of the history the swimming pool. Nevertheless, more than 50% of the information available coincides with the same location of the very first swimming pool. You may be surprised with the revelation of the origins of the swimming pool.
We all know the swimming pool serves as a place to have fun with friends and family, as well as for a great workout. However, at the time that the swimming pool made its first appearance, it was to serve different purposes. To understand the history of the swimming pool, one must see how it has evolved into what it is today.
Origins of the Name
Roman and Greek emperors had beautiful pools with fish in them. Due to this scenario, they decided to call pools “piscine”, which means fish in Latin. Since then, in English we now call it a pool while in Spanish, the word for pool has prevailed from the same root as “piscina.”
The very first known swimming pool dates back over five thousand years ago. Mohenjo-Daro, in Pakistan still has the remnants of a “great bath,” measuring 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep. The construction, composed of thin bricks with gypsum plaster and a thick layer of natural tar, helped retain the water. According to some historians, the pool was used for religious activities, like purification and renewal of the spirit.
However, Greeks and Romans gave the swimming pool a whole different meaning. The wealthy considered the oasis as a status symbol. But, throughout these significant ancient cities, water represented an essential element of society. Many pools beautified the area and put them into use for religious ceremonies, bathing, and social events.
Greek and Roman governments also used the pools to train their soldiers. Plato, the Greek philosopher, included swimming lessons as part of an educational curriculum, eventually making it a standard course for children in Greece. In the year 8 B.C., Gaius Maecenas became the first to invent add-on accessories for a pool. The political advisor to Augustus Caesar built his pool with waterfalls and gardens, overlooking the city of Rome.
The XIX Century in Swimming Pools
If there was a country that embraced the swimming pool and the sport of swimming, it had to be the United Kingdom. In the early years of the century, these indoor oases had the purpose to keep their citizens from bathing in rivers and lakes, and to reduce the drowning fatalities that were happening in those days. The typical size of the pool during these days was 164 feet long by 82 feet wide.
Eventually, competitive swimming became the rage, and swimming clubs started to appear throughout the country. By the 1850’s, there were six indoor swimming pools with diving boards in the UK. Swimming clubs not only were teams but also lifesavers who helped those involved in an aquatic accident.
The sport became so popular that it became a competing category at the first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The original size of the public oasis became the standard for an Olympic pool.
Among the famed British athletes at that time was George Kistler, whom later became the swimming coach at the University of Pennsylvania in 1897.
The 20th Century and Beyond
Deep Eddy is the oldest swimming pool in Texas and the first in-ground swimming pool in the United States. The pool started as a swimming area in the Colorado River in Austin. By 1915, A.J. Eilers bought the land and converted into a concrete swimming pool, and it became a resort.
The new century brought another group that glorified the swimming pool. Like their ancestors the Greeks and Romans, Hollywood stars had swimming pools at their homes, converting them into a status symbol. But after 1945, the swimming pool became mainstream. More and more Americans dreamed of having a staycation in their backyard. Since then, public in-ground pools started to pop up in major cities, more Americans began adding an oasis in their homes, and the sport of swimming became stronger than ever.
The second half of the 20th century gave an imagination for designers to create a pool with a purpose. Among those designs are zero-entry, natural pools and ponds, ocean pools and others. The addition of the spa, adjacent to the pool, completed the whole staycation formula.
The New Millennial
And now that we are in the second decade of the millennium, the love of having an oasis in the backyard is still active. Apart from the spa, people now have access to many add-ons like a beach entry, tanning shelves, fountains, grottos, even a water slide.
Technology plays a key role in making pools eco-friendlier. Variable speed pumps, automatic pool cleaners, filter cartridges, and LED lightning helps save energy. Also, with the invention of the smartphones, you can now download apps that control your swimming pool.
Today there are more than 10 million swimming pools in the United States, including over 360 thousand public swimming pools open all year round*
No matter in what part of the world you are, you will find a swimming pool. It may be indoor or outdoor, public or private, but the oasis is here to stay for good!