The 17th FINA World Championships will be held between 14 and 30 July in Budapest: the event is shaping up to be the largest sporting event ever to be organized in Hungary, and as a nation famous for its many Olympic golds in swimming sports, it’s also a source of pride for many of the country’s citizens. To get you into swimming spirit, here are some interesting facts about the world of swimming!
While today, water sports are mostly fairly safe to pursue, it wasn’t always this way: for example, once upon a time, in ancient Egypt, there was a game called fisherman jousting. Low-class fishermen would square off in teams against each other on the Nile, using long poles to propel their boats, and also: to shove members of the opposing team into the river, where they would be maimed by hippos and crocodiles.
Actually, the first depiction of swimming also dates back to the time of ancient Egypt: there are 10,000 year old rock paintings in the aptly named Cave of Swimmers in southwest Egypt showing proposedly swimming humans (fun fact: the cave was discovered by Hungarian explorer László Almásy, the famous English Patient). References to breaststroke in Babylonian bas-reliefs dated to 4,000 BC make the slowest stroke also the oldest. Since swimming uses your whole body (it uses more muscles than football or basketball), it is one of the best forms of exercise imaginable: its benefits include increased muscle tone and strength, improved flexibility, a healthier heart, faster metabolism, reduced blood pressure, a lower risk of diabetes, lower stress, higher spirits and improved cognitive functions. Together, these benefits culminate in one big gift, wrapped in elastic swimwear: a longer lifespan.
It’s not just little kids who do this: nearly all of the world’s elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool – while on 17 percent of -non-competitive swimmers do. If you want to know an even more weirder fact: some open water swimmers have, on occasion, had to dump their load into the water, as they couldn’t keep it in till their next pit stop. While Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, used to swim 8 miles during his 6 hours training sessions per day, there’s a land animal that swims even more: on average, an elephant swims 20 miles a day, using their trunks to breathe through, and they have no qualms about swimming even more. Experts suppose that elephants once swam from Southern India to Sri Lanka, where they settled.