Public baths have long been a staple of society throughout history. Here we talk about the history of swimming pools. Since the early ages, water tanks and pools have been a big part of leisure time and relaxation. Over 5000 years ago in an ancient settlement throughout Pakistan, there were tanks created that are estimated to be one of the first pools in existence. The tank itself measures 7 m wide and 12 m north with a depth of roughly 2 m. There were stairwells at either end and easy access for the patrons.
This original swimming pool was laid out in a tile format that is somewhat similar to modern pools. The tank was laid with a gypsum brick system which was watertight and then enhanced throughout the floor of the pool system to make it extremely strong. Ornate brickwork was found along the eastern edges of the pool as well as the southern edges and based on the ruins in the area it was estimated that there would be window screens or window frames to keep the area somewhat climate control.
The series of rooms throughout the eastern edge of the pool would have supplied the water needed to fill the tank and rainwater was likely collected and then drawn down towards the pool to fill up the basement. The inlet drains for the pool have not been found and the tank was likely used for religious functions when water was readily available.
The Ancient Greeks
One of the most prominent societies to use bathing pools were the ancient Greeks. Luxuries like pools were created using the ancient plumbing systems that stood as an important part of society for over 1000 years. Dating back to the sixth and eighth century BC the ancient Greeks were using palaestras which were open courts sometimes containing pools heavily featured with columns and rooms for socializing, bathing, and more. Pools that were used throughout this time were often favored locations for Roman and Greek military members who were using a break from training. Children would also learn how to swim for the first time in these controlled environments.
Perhaps one of the greatest advancements in engineering for pools and basins came with an ancient Roman pool that was estimated at over 900,000 ft.². The primary function of this pool was for bathing and it was heated by a series of giant fires below the basement floor of the basin. There were a series of ancient statues and pillars that would have sat along the edges of this pool and the experience would have been reserved for many Roman nobles.
Roman and Greek emperors were said to have had a series of ornate pools complete with live fish and Jacuzzi style heating. Some of these pools were even created an indoor Villa environment overlooking libraries, terraces, and the luxury of the time.
Competitive swimming brought about a new type of pool throughout the early 1800s. Britain created the first national swimming society and at that time there was a call to create controlled environments for swimming. The national swimming society created pools that were to be used as competitions and would eventually open their organization to an amateur swimming Association in the year 1880. Strokes were introduced later on and standardized events like the breaststroke would eventually become Olympic events and a standard that competition worldwide.
From early competition pools and controlled environments, we would eventually see the modern-day resort pool. In the 1920s some of the first resort pools were created for hotels and the technology was adapted for use in backyards and homes. I hope this article opened your eyes on the history of swimming pools.
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