Splash! 10,000 Years of Swimming

Hachette. Jun. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780306845666. $28. SPORTS
From the earliest days of recorded history, water has been a constant and essential partner for humankind. Means (67 Shots) now reveals the fascinating story of how we interact with water through swimming, from Egyptian cave paintings of dog paddlers created almost 10,000 years ago to modern-day Olympians, their aerodynamic swimwear and race times measured in hundredths of seconds. Religious beliefs, gender disparity, segregation, architecture, and fashion are also part of the history of swimming, as are milestones like the birth of the bikini and crossing the English Channel. Means packs an astonishing amount of information into one concise time line, with his own experiences and observations connecting different norms and eras. Sports fans who may have only a passing interest in swimming will find this an unexpectedly absorbing overview, with plenty of unforgettable characters and intriguing research.
VERDICT An all-encompassing, yet highly accessible history of one of humankind’s most elemental and popular activities, this title is recommended for everyone from sports fans to historians. For a sport generally underrepresented in library collections, this is a superb account of swimming’s long and remarkable history.

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