Swimming has a long history. But in ancient times, swimming was more a skill than a pleasure and was mostly associated with military operations. This might be a reason that swimming wasn't really promoted as a sport per se. The enthusiasm for swimming competitions wasn't carried abroad and this may be why there are huge gaps in our Olympic swimming history. Employing swimming in war against the Romans was described in Germanic history manuals. Swimming competitions are also known from history times. But the earliest Olympic Games excluded swimming from their agendas so why must we discuss in general Olympic swimming history, if nothing is known about it?
These days we are grateful to the founders of the modern Olympic swimming era who have drawn attention to the absence of Olympic swimming history, and decided to include swimming events in Olympic Games. The year of 1896 may be considered as the beginning of the modern Olympic swimming era, when in Athens (Greece) the Olympic Games took place. It is worth mentioning that it was a "no-female" competition. Six competitions were planned but only four of them took place (100, 500 and 1200 m freestyle and one for sailors).
Alfred Hajos of Hungary became the first gold medalist, and won in 100 m freestyle. Austrian Paul Neumann and Ioannis Malokinis (Greece) also won gold medals, the first in 500 m freestyle, and the second in the competition for sailors from a rowing boat. The next Olympics were hold in Paris (1900) and then in 1904 in St. Louis. Freestyle backstroke and a team race featured on the second Olympic Games in Paris in 1900. Two supplementary swimming events were the highlight of the program: an obstacle swimming course with stream in the Seine River and an underwater swimming race.
In the Olympic swimming history it was first permitted for women to compete in the Olympics of 1912 in Stockholm. The events which took place in were freestyle and freestyle relay. The water polo was introduced in 1900 in early Olympic swimming games but in 1904 only the U.S. club teams were ready to fight in accordance with American rules and in ghastly conditions. Europeans were in the lead in these sports lately. The U.S. won some bronze in Olympics from 1924 to 1988. Women were not allowed to compete until the 2000 Games in Sydney. Australia won the gold medal, the United States took the silver, and the bronze went to Russia in Sydney.
The first World Cup for women in Water Polo was established in 1979, and in 1986 the first World Championships took place. The astonishing play in the water polo was carried out by the Hungarians and their team won the most medals in the history of Olympic water polo, when their team won 13 medals, the most part of them was the gold medals (seven), four of them were earned between 1932-1956. Russia has won eight medals in water polo, including two gold. The United States won six medals, including three silver.
The Olympic swimming games in Athens (Greece) in 2004 included the aquatic sports of Olympic swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming. At summer Olympics there are triathlon and the modern pentathlon that require water or a swimming pool. So the future of swimming games in Olympic competition as we see is promising.