The Swimming competition at the 2012 Olympic Games were held from July 28 – August 10 in the London Aquatics Centre, with the marathon swimming event taking place at Hyde Park. In all, 950 athletes competed for gold.
Women’s Swimming entered the Olympic Games in 1912. Today, men’s and women’s competitions each include 17 events that incorporate various disciplines made up of freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, individual medley, and medley relays over a number of distances, as well as the 10km open-water swim.
The competition pool is 50m long and is divided into eight 2.5m lanes. Each stroke has its own regulations regarding proper starts, leg and arm movements during the races and how the swimmer must touch the wall at the end of each length. For all strokes except backstroke, the race begins with a dive from a starting block. Backstroke events start in the water. Any swimmer who leaves the starting block or wall prior to the starting gun is disqualified. In all Swimming events, the individual or team with the fastest time wins.
Events: 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m
The freestyle events are those in which the swimmer may swim any stroke, with the exception of the freestyle segments in the individual medley and medley relay events in which freestyle means any swimming stroke other than backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly. Some part of the swimmer’s body must touch the end wall at the end of each length and at the finish, while some part of the body must break the surface throughout the race except at the start and turn. The 800m freestyle event is only for women, while the 1,500m freestyle event is only for men.
Events: 100m, 200m
Swimmers must remain on their backs throughout the race except during the flip-turn. The normal on-the-back position may include a body roll movement that does not exceed 90 degrees from the horizontal. Some part of the body must break the surface of the water throughout the race except for after the start and during and after the turn, when the body may be completely under water (for a distance of no more than 15m in both cases).
Events: 100m, 200m
Breaststroke is a fairly complex swimming style that demands perfect coordination of arm and leg movements. Unlike freestyle and backstroke, in breaststroke the arms and legs move simultaneously on the same horizontal plane. If the swimmer gets out of synch or if a competitor touches the wall with one hand during the turn, she or he is disqualified.
Events: 100m, 200m
In the butterfly, both arms move simultaneously in a circular pattern while the legs move with an up-and-down dolphin kick. A common cause for disqualification is when the competitor touches the wall with one hand during the turn, or moves his or her legs contrary to the regulations.
Events: 200m, 400m
The individual medley is made up of equal distances of the four swimming strokes in the following order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle. Each leg must begin and end in accordance with the rules applicable to the particular stroke.
Events: 4x100m Freestyle, 4x100m Medley, 4x200m Freestyle
Four swimmers from the same team compete together in a relay event, each using one of the four swimming strokes. The order of the medley relay is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle. Once the first relay team member touches the wall, the next relay team member dives in. The third and fourth members of the team follow this pattern. Relay changeovers are only valid when the feet of the outgoing swimmer detach from the starting blocks at least 3/100 of a second after the fingers of the incoming swimmer touch the wall. If the outgoing swimmer moves too early, his or her team is disqualified.
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