Swimming Pools, Then and Now

by Pool Builders on 05-12-2010 in Articles

Not only is swimming one of the most popular activities worldwide, it's also one of the oldest pastimes, dating as far back a 2500 B.C. Vivid depictions of swimming have been found in relics from ancient Egypt, and there is evidence of swimming in Rome, Assyria, Greece, and many other ancient cultures including Babylonia and Phoenicia. In Japan, competitive swimming existed as far back as 2000 years ago.

The first swimming pool was built by the Romans, who along with the Greeks required swimming as part of the education of young boys. In the first century B.C., a wealthy Roman lord named Gaius Maecenas built the first heated swimming pool. Quite notable among ancient pools are the "Kuttam Pokuna" (Twin Pools), built in the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka in the 4th century B.C. These amazing pools featured a sophisticated filter system that served to both clean the water and recycle it to nearby rice fields.

Leaping forward in time, more modern day swimming pools began gaining popularity in Europe in the mid 19th century. Swim clubs came into existence, and in 1837 a few indoor pools with diving boards were located in London. However, it was the swimming events in the 1896 Olympics that sparked widespread interest in pools.

Much later, after World War II, home owners in the United States began to install backyard swimming pools. No small amount of credit goes to the famous actress Esther Williams. Her film "Million Dollar Mermaid" established the private home pool as a status symbol, and other Hollywood movies promoted consumer desire for personal pools and growth of the industry.

The demand for pools today often has little to do with needing a practice place for athletic competition. Quite often, homeowners today want a pool for pleasure alone. In fact, it has been said that 90% of an owner's enjoyment is not swimming or being in the pool but rather looking at it. The shimmering water tends to have a soothing effect all its own. A pool setting offers a unique atmosphere that is conducive to a relaxing time out from life's hectic pace, perfect for sharing a lazy afternoon alone or with friends, or for hosting a fun and casual gathering.

Using a home pool for exercise is an added bonus. Swimming is one of the best ways to work multiple muscle groups at once, and it's usually far more enjoyable than less productive workouts such as walking on a treadmill at the gym. Water aerobics offers another fun way to burn calories and build muscle, again more fun than many of the alternatives.

Regardless of how a pool is used, cleanliness is top priority. Sparkling water certainly enhances the beauty, but more important is making sure the pool water stays safe and healthy. Fortunately, this doesn't involve hours and hours of exhausting manual labor. Learning to maintain the right pH balance is a must, and addition of chlorine helps alleviate some of the burden on the pool filter. The presence of calcium levels and the acidic-alkaline balance must be monitored.

Use of an automatic pool cleaner can rapidly perform the work of sanitizing the pool without great effort by the pool owner. Unless you actually enjoy tedious pool maintenance, an automatic pool cleaner is an essential accessory. We've come a long way since 2500 B.C. Thankfully, modern equipment enables pool owners to spend far less time working on the pool and much more time enjoying it.

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