The Importance Of Swimming Pools Throughout History

The Importance Of Swimming Pools Throughout History

Water has always held immense importance to human beings throughout history. The ocean has been providing us with life from before the bronze age, and some of history’s greatest empires were built next to oceans, rivers and lakes. It’s no surprise then that swimming pools have been popular throughout the centuries: far more than just increasing your property value!

A swimming pool may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of one of humanity’s oldest inventions. But the very first swimming pool was built over 7000 years ago! 

We’ve gathered together our crack team of pool experts to give you a little insight into just how significant your swimming pool has been in influencing human history. In fact, your pool has a whole story behind it!


When Was The First Pool Built?

The very first swimming pool was built over 7000 years ago, sometime around 5000 BC in the ancient Pakistani city of Mehenjo-daro. At the time, this swimming pool – more accurately described as “The Great Bath” – was a marvel of ancient engineering. It was built by digging a 12 by 7-metre hole, lined with bricks and covered with a tar-based sealant to stop the water from draining into the sands!

Although this was the first recorded instance of a swimming pool (or something close to it), it is believed by historians to have been used for religious purposes. It would take many years for this innovation to be opened up to the public for swimming.

Swimming Pools Used For Religious Ceremonies

A quick note on the early religious uses for swimming pools: it’s no coincidence that swimming pools held such great importance in their early days. Water has long been considered sacred by many cultures and religions, primarily for its cleansing and rejuvenating properties. 

Swimming pools are the embodiment of this cultural and religious fascination by humanity. One can see clearly the importance of public baths which were the foundation of ancient Greek and Roman cultures, all the way to thermal heated springs in ancient Great Britain. It is not hard to see how swimming pools derived from this. 

The religious significance of water still persists today in many cultures and religions, from baptisms to beach-side weddings. In fact, for a long time during the early 1950s owning a swimming pool was considered an icon of status in the western world.


The Birth Of Public Swimming

Let’s get back on (historical) track. It seems inevitable that the great bathes of humanity’s history would evolve into public swimming pools. The first instance of an indoor public swimming pool has been recorded as early as 1828. The club was named ST. George’s Bathes and used saltwater. 

Indoor swimming pools across Great Britain rapidly grew in popularity, namely because most British residents did not have access to their own bathes at the time. Moreover, local governments were growing alarmed at the number of deaths caused by drownings in local rivers. Indoor swimming pools were considered a safer alternative. This concern also gave rise to the famous Maidstone Swimming Club from Maidstone, Kent. This swimming club is believed to be the oldest surviving one in Britain.

Competitive Swimming Becomes Popular

It certainly didn’t take long for public access to swimming pools to result in competitive ambitions! A mere decade after the first indoor pool had been opened in Great Britain, swimming had become a hugely popular recreational activity across the western world. The Amateur Swimming Association was founded in 1869. A mere 30 years later when the Olympics were first founded, swimming was one of the original sports, with diving and obstacle swimming being introduced in later years. Although swimming was considered healthy, it would take many more years until the physical benefits of swimming were more widely accepted.


Technological Innovations Open Up A New World Of Swimming

In the last 100 years, we have witnessed a huge amount of technological innovations affect the pool industry. Swimming pools have quickly transformed from religious icons to public areas, to a status symbol in the west, and finally to our modern-day, accessible swimming pool. Some of the technological innovations that caused this include: 

  1. Above-Ground Pools: vastly increased accessibility due to more affordable costs and flexible installation process.
  2. Fibreglass Pools: the addition of fibreglass to a pool’s structure significantly innovated the pool market, making swimming pools safer and more long-lasting
  3. Chlorine: typically, swimming pools have mostly been saltwater throughout human history. Salt was known to corrode a pool’s structure and dry out the swimmer’s skin. Chlorine was a more effective chemical for keeping pools clean
  4. Heaters: the advent of heaters improved the usability of pools tremendously during the winter months, especially in colder climates
  5. LED Lights: Electronic, water-proof lights allowed pool owners and the general public to safely swim at night

Historical Importance Of Pools - And What It Means For You

The history of swimming pools and their influence on human history may be long, varied and colourful, but one thing is certain: swimming is as natural to us as breathing is! But what does this colourful history mean for you? Well, by investing in a swimming pool, you are not only benefiting your own health, but you are partaking in a shared ritual that is ancient and sacred to all human beings. Not only that, but you can be on the cutting edge of swimming by choosing to install a fibreglass pool. We might not have been around as long as the ancient Romans, but we have something they don’t: Australia’s favourite fibreglass pools! Contact us today for your free quote.

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We invite you to visit our display centres or contact us today for a free quote and site appraisal. Let Barrier Reef Pools WA and its skilled, experienced and friendly sales staff work with you in selecting the very best design to meet your special needs.

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