Swimming Pool History: A Quick Primer

People around the world have been enjoying a quick dip in the pool for thousands of years.

Contrary to popular belief that the first swimming pools were built by the Greeks and Romans as bathing centers, the earliest public water tank for swimming and bathing was actually built more than 5000 years ago in the Pakistani city of Mohenjo-daro.

Built into the original pool design was a small ledge extending the full width of the pool, as many public pools have today. This feature allowed people to move along the ledge without fully immersing into the pool.
Learning to Swim Like a Fish
To say the ancient Greeks and Romans did take things up a notch is an understatement, however.

As standards of living increased in ancient times, luxuries such as large pools came into fashion. Pools enhanced property value but were used for many other reasons such as bathing, health, religious ceremonies, etc.

The word “pool” comes from “piscine” meaning fish.

The first Jacuzzi style pool, complete with waterfalls and lush garden landscaping, was designed by Gaius Maecenas, one of Augustus Ceasar’s political advisors around 8 BCE.

Both Roman and Greek emperors enjoyed ornate pools complete with live fish.

The Greek philosopher Plato believed that learning to swim was part of a proper education - along with mathematics, writing, astronomy, and so forth. Standard education included teaching children to swim in pools as early as 400 BCE but even earlier, in the 6th to 8th Century BCE, the ancient Greeks had “Palaestras” which included pools for swimming, bathing and socializing with friends and neighbors.

Pools were also used by the Greek and Roman militaries to train for war.

The Romans built a pool that was more than 900,000 square feet in the year 305 which was heated by giant fires in the basement and was used for public bathing.

Let’s Race!
Although swimming was not included in the Olympic Games in Athens until 1896, competitive swimming was developed in Great Britain during the early 1800′s by the National Swimming Society.

Indoor pools in London were used by the National Swimming Society of England for swimming competitions. The popularity of the sport led to the formation of the Amateur Swimming Association in 1880.
Modern Swimming Pools in America
With the popularity of motion pictures after World War II, swimming pools became a status symbol across the United States.

The American Dream of owning one’s own home, being King of one’s own Castle, quickly came to include the dream of having a private backyard oasis complete with a modern swimming pool like those seen on the big screen at the local movie theater.

Stylish backyards from coast to coast now feature the personal retreat.

The Staycation was born!


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