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Swimming Competitions – An overview

FINA is the Federation Internationale de Natation the world governing body for swimming. FINA writes the rules for Olympic-type watersport. All of the FINA sports are: pool swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, open water swimming, and master’s swimming. FINA has recognized national governing bodies in each country that carry out FINA’s regulations and directives, and have each country votes on membership on the FINA board. Among FINA’s objectives are the promotion of swimming and the organization of world championships and other FINA competitions.  //

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The British Governing Body

British Swimming is the National Governing Body for Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo and Open Water in Great Britain. It is responsible internationally for the high performance representation of the sport. The members of British Swimming are the three Home Countries national governing bodies of England (ASA), Scotland (ScottishSwimming) and Wales (Swim Wales). British Swimming seeks to enable its athletes to achieve gold medal success at the Olympics, Paralympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games //

Speaking about the build up to the 2012 Olympics British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes said: “Preparations for all of our sports are right-on-track to build on the success that the aquatics team enjoyed in Beijing and our legacy programme is also taking shape.

“We are confident that we will not only see British success in the pool but we will also see swimming moving to a new level with more people swimming more often and having more fun in the pool.”

Olympic History

It was at the 1896 Olympics where swimming was introduced as a sport, which was held in open waters. At that time there were only two events, which were the 100 meters and the 1500 meters and only involved men competing. Following the popularity of the sport at the Olympics, more freestyle events were introduced, shortly followed by other strokes such as backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and also the individual medley. The first time a pool was used instead of the sport taking part in open waters was at the London 1908 games where it was built inside the athletics track. It wasn’t until the 1912 Olympics where women were allowed to compete in this sport and this was only due to a group of people that is now known as the international Olympic committee that made it possible. The Olympics have developed so much now that there is a total of 34 swimming races, 17 of which are for men and 17 for women. The latest event which has been added to the competition is the 10km Marathon Swim which only took place for the first time at the Beijing Olympics 2008.

2012 Olympics

At the 2012 Olympics in London the swimming events will take place in the newly built Aquatics centre over a period of 16 days from the 28th July to the 12th August. There will be a total of 850 athletes competing for 34 gold medals. It has been confirmed by the International Olympic committee that there is an unchanged swimming programme for the 2012 Olympics and will follow the competition schedule of that at Beijing 2008.



  • 50m freestyle men/women
  • 100m freestyle men/women
  • 200m freestyle men/women
  • 400m freestyle men/women
  • 1500m freestyle men
  • 800m freestyle women
  • 4x100m freestyle relay men/women
  • 4x200m freestyle relay men/women


  • 100m backstroke men/women
  • 200m backstroke men/women


  • 100m breaststroke men/women
  • 200m breaststroke men/women


  • 100m butterfly men/women
  • 200m butterfly men/women


  • 200m individual medley men/women
  • 400m individual medley men/women
  • 4×100 medley relay women/men


  • Marathon 10k men/women

Aquatics Centre

The new Aquatics centre already dubbed the ‘Wembley for swimming’ will play home to the swimming events, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and the modern pentathlon for the 2012 Olympics.

“The venue was designed by acclaimed international architect Zaha Hadid. It features a spectacular wave-like roof that is 160m long and up to 80m wide, giving it a longer single span than Heathrow Terminal 5.” London 2012

The aquatics centre will hold a maximum capacity of 17,500 seats for both the swimming and diving and is said to be the gateway to the whole of the Olympic park. There also plans in place for the venue to be used after the games by turning it into a permanent leisure facility for the community.

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‘In legacy the Aquatics Centre will play a major role in building a more active and healthy community in the East End of London and will act as a focal point in relation to healthy activity, combating obesity and improving health’ British Swimming

Key Athletes

Michael Phelps

Last Olympic Games Michael Phelps took his total to 14 gold medals which is the record for anyone competing at the Olympics. 8 of these medals came from the last Olympic Games held in Beijing where he also broke 7 world records and 1 Olympic record. This year Phelps has gone from being described as probably the best Olympic athlete ever to being scrutinised by the public for being pictured smoking a marijuana pipe. Follow this release Phelps has doubted whether he will even swim in 2012 or decide on retiring early.

Phelps quotes ““Yeah, there are still goals that I have in the pool, 100 percent. But I’m not going to let anything stand in my way. If I decide to walk away, I’ll decide to walk away on my own terms. If it’s now, if it’s four years, who knows. But it is something I need to think about and decide what I want to do.” //

If Phelps does decide to compete in the 2012 Olympics it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from this and whether he can live up to the expectations people put on him and the high standard of performance that the people have come to expect.

Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca Adlington stormed to success at the previous Olympics become Britain’s first Olympic swimming champion since 1988 and also the first British swimmer to win two gold medals since 1908. This was from competing in both the 400m freestyle and also the 800m freestyle, where she also broke the world record. In 2009 the IOC announced its plans to keep the swimming schedule the same as it was in Beijing, following ideas that the 800m for women was to be removed and replaced by the 1500m so that the events would be the same as the men’s. This therefore is good news for Adlington as if the GB team qualifies for that event in 2012 she will be able to defend her title.

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