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In recreation and sports, the propulsion of the body through water by combined arm and leg motions. Swimming is popular as an all-around fitness routine and as a competitive sport. It has been included in the modern Olympic Games since their inception in 1896. Events include freestyle (crawl-stroke) races at distances of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 m; backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly races at 100 and 200 m; individual medley races at 200 and 400 m; freestyle relays, 4 100 m and 4 200 m; and the medley relay, 4 100 m. Long-distance swimming competitions, usually of 15–37 mi (24–59 km), are generally held on lakes and inland waters.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on swimming, visit Britannica.com.