Was Swimming Practiced in Ancient Greece?

Was Swimming Practiced in Ancient Greece?

Swimming, as a recreational and competitive activity, has been popular for centuries. But what about ancient Greece?

Did the ancient Greeks practice swimming? Let’s dive into the history and find out.

The Importance of Water in Ancient Greece

Water played a significant role in the lives of ancient Greeks. With their close proximity to the Aegean Sea and numerous other bodies of water, it comes as no surprise that swimming was indeed practiced in ancient Greece.

Swimming As a Sport

In ancient Greece, swimming was not only seen as a means of survival but also as a sport. The Greeks recognized the physical benefits of swimming and incorporated it into their athletic events, particularly during the Olympic Games.

Swimming Techniques in Ancient Greece

The Greeks developed various swimming techniques that are still recognizable today. One such technique was called “korykos,” which involved using freestyle strokes to move through the water efficiently.

The Role of Swimming in Greek Mythology

Swimming also held great significance in Greek mythology. The most famous example is the story of Leander and Hero.

Leander would swim across the Hellespont every night to meet his lover, Hero. This mythological tale highlights both the allure and dangers associated with swimming during ancient times.

Aquatic Spaces in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greeks were not limited to swimming solely in natural bodies of water. They also constructed specific spaces for aquatic activities called “natationes.”

These natationes were artificial pools or tanks designed for swimming practice and entertainment purposes.

Hygiene and Bathing

In addition to swimming for sports and leisure, ancient Greeks also recognized the importance of hygiene. They used swimming as a way to cleanse their bodies and maintain personal cleanliness.


Swimming was indeed practiced in ancient Greece. From being a competitive sport to having mythological significance, swimming held a vital place in Greek culture.

The techniques developed by the Greeks have influenced modern-day swimming, and their understanding of the benefits of water activities is still relevant today.