Ancient Greeks and Romans considered swimming an essential part of a person's training together with military training. Ancient Greeks occasionally organized swimming contests and ancient Romans built swimming pools in addition to public baths. The Emperors of Japan even issued rescripts which made swimming a compulsory part of school curriculum.
A relief which is on display at the British Museum in London testifies to the fact that ancient Uyghur Turks were also swimmers. There are also documents discovered which prove that Assyrians and Babylonians engaged in swimming as a sport. An Assyrian relief which is believed to date back to the 8th century B.C. depicts Assyrian soldiers swimming across a river in order to escape from enemy arrows. And during the Ottoman period, wooden seawater bath houses constructed along the shores of big cities such as Istanbul and Izmir played an important role in popularizing swimming among the populace. The foundations of swimming as a sport in Turkey were laid in the Galatasaray High School in 1873. Physical education teacher Monsieur Moiroux who arrived in Istanbul but was from France was also an accomplished swimmer and taught his students how to swim.
In competitive swimming, four major styles have been established:
Backstroke is the only swimming style which his swum on the back. The other styles are swum on the breast, or belly. These four styles differ from each other in terms of the body's position, foot movements, sweep of arms, position of head, breathing and coordination.
In butterfly, the body is leaned forward and is almost horizontal. The butterfly kick has been inspired by the movement of dolphins and also known as the "dolphin kick". The dolphin kick consists of synchronous arm movement with a synchronous leg kick.
Swum on the back, backstroke is an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick. The arms alternate so that always one arm is underwater while the other arm is recovering.
Breaststroke is the slowest of the four official styles. Leaning on the chest increases the friction and thus reduces speed. In breaststroke, arms can only leave water partially and legs must remain in water all the time.
This style is also known as freestyle swimming. Because, in freestyle, swimmers are allowed to swim in any style they like or in any position they chose. In crawl, arms are moved in coordination similar to backstroke style.
Swimming is not only done in order to have fun, maintain health or to compete but also done for treatment and rehabilitation purposes.