The British swam the breaststroke until 1873 and when a Native American won a swimming competition using the forward-crawl in 1844, they called the method “barbaric”.

The British swam the breaststroke until 1873 and when a Native American won a swimming competition using the forward-crawl in 1844, they called the method “barbaric”.

Swimming only became a competitive sport in the 1830's in Britain. The first swimming pool was opened for public use in 1828.

In 1844 a swimming competition was held in London, and that event turned the British idea of 'civilized' swimming completely on its head.

British gentlemen only used the breaststroke when swimming. They did not like submerging their heads under the water and certainly preferred as little boisterous splashing of water as possible.

It so happened that two Native American swimmers participated in the 1844 event and they swam a variant of the front-crawl – which proved to be much more effective than the breaststroke.So much so that the winning medal went to "Flying Gull' who completed the 130 foot length in a mere 30 seconds!

'The Times' of London wrote a very disapproving report of the event.

They felt that the amount of splashing produced by this stroke was "barbaric" and "un-European". They described it as an unrefined stroke with the arms "like a windmill" and also said that the kicking of the legs were unregulated and "chaotic."

Even though the Native American stroke proved to be faster and more successful, the British continued to only swim breaststroke until 1873, when a variant of the forward-crawl came into use, but was named the side-stroke and involved much less splashing.

(Source)

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