History of Swimming Pools

The following is a guest post by Ryan Gavin (author information at end of article)

Swimming pools are everywhere. Just about every hotel has them, and resorts have multiple pools ranging from small to large. But just when did we decide that they would be used for recreation, or even for competition? Believe it or not, swimming pools have been around for thousands of years. They have evolved from being used as a bathing area to being used as a family fun area. Here is a timeline of the history of swimming pools.

2600 B.C. – The first recorded swimming pool dates back over 5000 years to the Pakistani city of Mohenjo-Daro. It’s believed that this “pool” was really a giant public bathing area. It had a ledge inside that could be walked on without fully submerging underwater. The very first pool was about 24 feet long, 23 feet wide, and almost 8 feet deep. Because “swimming” was not a common skill, most people used the ledge more often than the center of the pool.

600 B.C. – The first real case of a swimming pool being built for casual use and not for bathing was in 600 B.C. when the Greeks had multiple small pools for the men to use after a day at the Palaestras, or large open areas used for sports, such as arm wrestling, ball playing, and was even used to store equipment and clothing. The pools were used for relaxation, but there were still pools specifically for bathing as well.

100 B.C. – More pools were built around the world specifically for bathing. Around 100 B.C., Gaius Maecenas built the first heated swimming pool. He was a rich Roman lord with an eye for art. This pool was built for relaxation purposes, not for bathing. Even after Maecenas built his pool, they were still not overly popular for hundreds of years. By this time most people knew how to swim because of wars taking place in and around the oceans.

305 – In the year 305 A.D. the Romans built the largest pool in known history. This pool expanded up to 900,000 square feet. It was made specifically for (you guessed it!) bathing for everyone in the city. This is almost 3 times the size of the largest pool we see today at the Crystal Lagoon at the San Alfonso del Mar resort.

1839 – Oxford installed an indoor swimming pool for public use. This greatly increased popularity and made more people aware of the joys of swimming in a pool, launching swimming associations and clubs all around the world.

1896 – The first Olympic Games that included swimming races. After this date, swimming became more popular as a sport and a recreational activity. As a result, more people installed swimming pools around the world.

1907 – The Racquet Club of Philadelphia installed the one of the world’s first above-ground swimming pools.

1915 – The installation of the oldest swimming pool in Texas, Deep Eddy commenced. It became a resort in the 1920s. This swimming pool was one of the first in-ground pools in the world. It is still around today as a historical landmark.

1922 – Johnny Weissmuller became the world’s most famous swimmer when he was the first person in the world to swim 100m in less than a minute. He won 5 Olympic medals and 36 national championships. He never lost a race and was considered one of the best swimmers in history.

1943 – Two-piece swimsuits are produced and become widely popular.

1948 – Cascade Industries developed the first vinyl swimming pool.

2006 – San Alfonso del Mar was built in Algarrobo, Chile. The pool covers 20 acres and contains about 66,000,000 (66 million) gallons of seawater. It can reach up to 115 feet deep. This pool is considered to be the largest in the world today.

Present Day
Pools continue to grow more popular today, with thousands of pool installers and pool manufacturers across the country and around the world. Various types of pools today include:

  • Concrete
  • Vinyl
  • Fiberglass

    Over the years some owners have innovated on swimming pools to add on fountains, hot tubs, and other miscellaneous extras to their swimming pool. What will you add to yours?

    About the Author: Ryan Gavin is an associate of Leisure Pools, LLC, a pool installer in Maryland. He writes on all topics relating to pools, swimming, and pool add-ons.

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When Kevin’s not enjoying the water himself he’s engaging himself in the wide world of pool and spa knowledge which he passes on to our customers through producing content for our blogs and website. Outside of the pool world you can find him enjoying life with friends, family and his off the wall dog Brixton.