Swimming was on the program of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896. Women first competed in swimming at the Olympic Games in 1912. Today, men’s and women’s competitions each include 17 events that incorporate the various strokes of freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke over a number of distances in the pool 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.