How Swimming Has Made Its Mark. Or Mike. Or Tarzan.

In case you just now returned to this planet from vacation outside the solar system: swimmer Michael Phelps earned eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics-besting the swimming record of seven gold medals won in a single Olympics held by swimmer Mark Spitz since 1972.

In honor of both of these famous swimmers, we thought you might like to dive into a little swimming trivia:

  • Though only one of at least seven actors to play the role of Tarzan in motion pictures during the 1930’s, Johnny Weissmuller is by far the best-known “trivia” Tarzan. What is often overlooked is that before swinging his way through the jungle with Jane and Cheetah, Weissmuller earned five gold medals and one bronze medal as an Olympic swimmer during the 1920’s.
  • Captain Matthew Webb of England was the first to swim the English Channel unaided, in 1875
  • Henry Sullivan was the first American to swim the English Channel, in 1923.
  • When Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel on August 6, 1926, she was only a teenager. What’s more, she broke the speed record formerly held by her few male contemporaries!
  • Captain Matthew Webb (above) died in 1883 trying to swim the Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls.
  • Olympic swimmer Eric Moussambani of Equatorial New Guinea recorded the slowest time ever posted in an Olympic 100 meter swim at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia: 1 minute 52.72 seconds. History remembers him as “Eric the Eel”, a swimmer who before this event had never seen an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and won his preliminary heat because his other competitors suffered disqualification. He’d only begun to swim nine months prior to the event-and his struggling, dogged effort to finish the race stood as Equatorial Guinea’s national 100-meter swimming record, and earned him brief yet international fame as a representative of the true Olympic spirit.

The backyard vacation available from your own swimming pool is not likely Olympic-sized, and may not ever produce a swimmer who makes international headlines or wins gold medals. But what a swimming pool can bring to you, your family and friends in both joy and healthful exercise can last a lifetime-as long as any record or achievement.