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From the Swimming Hole to Swimming for Medals



From the Swimming Hole to Swimming for Medals
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.63

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    push-offs, unseemly, inability, offensive, Archeologists, controversial, conservative, controversy, teaching, estimate, prisoner, value, participate, fashion, backstroke, overboard
     content words:    Middle East, South America, Olympic Games, When Scyllis, One Japanese, Middle Ages, One German, Benjamin Franklin, Guts Muts, Alfred Hajos


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From the Swimming Hole to Swimming for Medals
By Jane Runyon
  

1     People have been swimming for thousands of years. Prehistoric pictures of people swimming have been found on the walls of caves in southwestern Egypt. References to swimmers can be found in the Bible. The first complete book about swimming was written by a German professor of language in 1538. Records of swimming races can be found from the beginning of the 1800s. Swimming has a long and sometimes controversial history.
 
2     The earliest pictures of swimmers appear on the wall of the "cave of the swimmers" in Egypt. It looks like the swimmers in these pictures are using a type of breast stroke similar to today's dog paddle. A clay seal dated somewhere between 4000 B.C. and 9000 B.C. shows four swimmers using a stroke sometimes called the front crawl. Pictures of swimmers were also found in the Kebir desert. Archeologists estimate that these drawings were done about 4000 B.C. In 2800 B.C., an Indian prince built a large palace. Remains of a swimming pool were found at this palace. Pictures and relics of swimmers from this far back have been found all over Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and even in the Incan empire of South America.
 
3     It seems odd to some historians that the early Greeks did not include swimming as part of the first Olympic Games. They enjoyed swimming and even used the inability to swim as an insult to someone they didn't like. A story is told that a certain Greek, named Scyllis, was taken prisoner during a war. He was held captive on board a ship in the harbor. When Scyllis overheard his captives discussing a plan to attack the Greek navy, he knew he had to do something to stop the attack. He freed himself during the night, stole a knife, and jumped overboard. He was able to fashion a snorkel out of a reed growing in the water. Using the snorkel and knife, he cut the enemy ships loose from their anchors. The ships drifted out to sea. He was able to warn the Greek navy. The Greeks were able to catch up to the enemy and destroy their ships. The ability to swim had saved the Greek navy.

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