After we learned about swimming at the first Olympic Games of the modern times – Games of the I Olympiad – that took place in Athens in 1986, we continue our journey through the history of swimming: 4 years later, in Paris, the second occurrence of the modern Olympic Games officially known as the Games of the II Olympiad took place between 14 May and 28 October 1900.
Among those seven swimming races throughout this second edition of Olympic games, there is one that claimed its page in the history of swimming for decades ahead: 200-meter obstacle.
Throughout the 1900 Olympic Games, only four events were marked with the male athletes’ participation. All those events took place the same day, 11 April 1986, with 19 athletes competing. Four years later, the number of the swimming contests reached seven along with the increased number of the athletes participating in them: 76 athletes coming from 12 countries (including Paolo Bussetti and Fabio Mainoni, the first ever Italian Olympic athletes).
Surprisingly, at the Games of the II Olympiad, none of the swimming contests, which had been held in Athens took place (100m freestyle, sailors’ 100m freestyle, 500m freestyle, and 1200m freestyle), featuring another seven contests instead:
- 200m freestyle
- 1000m freestyle
- 4000m freestyle
- 200m backstroke
- 200m team swimming
- 200m obstacle event
- Underwater Swimming
The last two of them are undoubtedly the most particular and unique contests of that kind: in fact, the 200m obstacle disappeared already at the next Olympic games held in St. Louis in 1904, whilst the underwater swimming endured another four years as a contest integrated into the diving events programme and subsequently disappeared by the Fourth Olympic Games held in London in 1908.
The 200-metre obstacle
The race was held between 11 and 12 August 2018 and counted a total of 12 swimmers coming from 5 countries. The swimming race consisted of getting through 3 various obstacles:
- The swimmers had to climb over a pole
- They had to scramble over a row of boats
- Finally, they had to swim under another row of boats
The finals were held on 12 August and marked the victory of an Australian athlete Frederick Lane, Olympic champion who set a world record of 2:34.8 for the 220yds. This was the most unusual event during the 1900 Olympic Games. Although it is not the only one won by Lane in Paris: he came first in the 200m freestyle and became the second swimmer in the history to win two Olympic Gold medals in a raw.
Lane was not the only one to win two Olympic titles in Paris: the English athlete, John Arthur Jarvis, won the finals of the 1000m and the 4000m along with him. As for the Italians, Fabio Mainoni arrived sixth in the finals in the 4000-metres, while Paolo Bussetti closed the fifth position in the first semi-final of the 200sl.
For the sake of its viability, the swimming was one of the first sports – along with running, riding and wrestling – to be practiced by the primitive tribes. From the Sumerians to the Egyptians, from the Iliad to the Bible, the written news of swimming dates back to 2000 BC; being disregarded at the Ancient Olympic Games, swimming became an Olympic discipline starting from the first edition of the Modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.