In 1896, a boat dropped everyone into the icy waters of the Mediterranean, and the first swimmer to shore won. That fist gold medalist in swimming was Hungarian Alfred Hajos.
The 1900 Paris swimming events were held in the River Siene, which meant that the contestants had to contend with the current too.
The London Olympics in 1908 was the first time a swimming pool (100 m) was used for swimming events. Prior to that, the site for the swimming events were the ocean (1896), the River Seine (1900), and a little lake in St. Louis, USA (1904).
Women competed in swimming events for the first time at the Olympic in 1912, but none of them were from USA, as that country did not allow its female athletes to compete in events without long skirts.
The first women's swimming gold medal was won by the Australian
Sarah 'Fanny' Durack, who won the 100m freestyle in 1912.
In 1924, Johnny Weissmuller won three golds and a bronze in water-based events; he later became known for playing Tarzan at the movies.
In 1936, Denmark's 12-year-old Inge Sorensen won a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke, making her the youngest medalist ever in an individual event.
The Butterfly event in swimming was "invented" for the 1956 Games after some swimmers had begun to exploit a loophole in the breaststroke rules.
Amy Van Dyken of the U.S. won four gold medals in swimming. Also, Ireland's Michelle Smith won three golds and a bronze in swimming. Smith was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs; this remained unproven, but she was suspended in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample.
Mark Spitz from USA won seven gold medals and at the Munich Games (1972), and
won them all in world record time.
In 1980, Russian swimmer Vladimir Salnikov became the first swimmer ever under 15 minutes (14:58.27) in the 1500m freestyle.
In 1984, US Swimmers Nancy Hogshead and Carie Steinseifer registered the first tie in Olympic history in the 100-meter freestyle . Both swimmers touched the wall at 55.92.
In 2000, 17-year-old Ian Thorpe of Australia won four medals (three gold) in swimming, breaking his own world record in the 400m freestyle.
In 2000, Eric "the Eel" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea was the year's lovable loser, taking 112.72 seconds in the 100m freestyle event — more than twice as long as Pieter van den Hoogenband's gold-winning performance. (more about Eric the Eel)
An 10km Open Water Swimming event was added to the Olympic program for the first time in 2008.
In 2008, US swimmer Michael Phelps became the most successful man at an Olympics by winning eight gold medals. His haul of 18 gold medals between 2004–2012 is the most out of all sports. See more on the Greatest Swimmers at the Olympics.