Today, swimming pools are almost everywhere. There are heated swimming pools, indoor swimming pools and pools that create their own waves. But where did this all start? Have swimming pools always been for swimming? Did ancient civilizations really care that much about getting a tan? Let’s take a look at the history and evolution of swimming pools.
A Brief History of Swimming Pools
Over 5,000 years ago, early Pakistan’s “Great Bath” became the first swimming pool built by man. This structure measured 12 meters by 7 meters and is considered the oldest swimming pool known to man. Two thousand years later, the first heated swimming pool was created by a friend of Caesar Augustus, Gaius Maecenas. In the mid-19th Century, Maidstone Swimming Club in England developed the first swimming pool in response to the threat of drowning when swimming in a river. Approximately 50 years later, after indoor swimming pools were invented, swimming was included as a sport in the first set of Olympic Games.
Historic Uses for Swimming Pools
It is widely accepted by historians that the first pool created was most likely built for use in religious practices where purified water was a necessity. Later, when the Greeks and Romans started building large-scale pools, bathing was the primary motivator behind pool construction. Prior to bathing in large pools, most people took baths in polluted rivers or water reservoirs. Ancient Romans, in 305 AD, generated heated water in swimming pools through fires pits built underneath the pool area. After swimming began to be considered a competitive sport in the 19th Century, the evolution of pools truly began.
Swimming Pools in the 20th Century and Today
In 1907, one of the first above-ground pools was invented in Pennsylvania at the Philadelphia Racquet Club. The city of Austin, Texas, would later claim to have one of the first in-ground swimming pools called Deep Eddy. Nearly one century after the first above-ground pool was invented, in 2006, the world’s largest pool was built in Chile at the San Alfonso Del Mar Resort measuring in at 20 acres. If swimming pools have come so far, what does the future hold for these havens of relaxation? Only time will tell!