Friday May 28, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Swimming Pool
On this Day:
In 1742, the 1st indoor swimming pool opened (Goodman’s Fields, London). However, any claims to be the world’s first swimming pool would be all wet.
A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, paddling pool, or simply pool is a structure designed to hold water to enable swimming or other leisure activities. Pools can be built into the ground (in-ground pools) or built above ground (as a freestanding construction or as part of a building or other larger structure), and may be found as a feature aboard ocean-liners and cruise ships. In-ground pools are most commonly constructed from materials such as concrete, natural stone, metal, plastic, or fiberglass, and can be of a custom size and shape or built to a standardized size, the largest of which is the Olympic-size swimming pool.
Many health clubs, fitness centers, and private clubs have pools used mostly for exercise or recreation. It is common for municipalities of every size to provide pools for public use. Many of these municipal pools are outdoor pools but indoor pools can also be found in buildings such as leisure centers. Hotels may have pools available for their guests to use at their own leisure. Pools as a feature in hotels are more common in tourist areas or near convention centers. Educational facilities such as high schools and universities sometimes have pools for physical education classes, recreational activities, leisure, and competitive athletics such as swimming teams. Hot tubs and spas are pools filled with water that is heated and then used for relaxation or hydrotherapy. Specially designed swimming pools are also used for diving, water sports, and physical therapy, as well as for the training of lifeguards and astronauts. Swimming pools most commonly use chlorinated water or salt water and may be heated or unheated.
The “Great Bath” at the site of Mohenjo-Daro in modern-day Pakistan was most likely the first swimming pool, dug during the 3rd millennium BC. This pool is 12 by 7 metres (39 by 23 feet), is lined with bricks, and was covered with a tar-based sealant.
Ancient Greeks and Romans built artificial pools for athletic training in the palaestras, for nautical games and for military exercises. Roman emperors had private swimming pools in which fish were also kept, hence one of the Latin words for a pool was piscina. The first heated swimming pool was built by Gaius Maecenas in his gardens on the Esquiline Hill of Rome, likely sometime between 38 and 8 BC. Gaius Maecenas was a wealthy imperial advisor to Augustus and considered one of the first patrons of arts.
Ancient Sinhalese built pairs of pools called “Kuttam Pokuna” in the kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka in the 4th century BC. They were decorated with flights of steps, punkalas or pots of abundance, and scroll design.
Swimming pools became popular in Britain in the mid-19th century. As early as 1837, six indoor pools with diving boards existed in London, England. The Maidstone Swimming Club in Maidstone, Kent is believed to be the oldest surviving swimming club in Britain. It was formed in 1844, in response to concerns over drownings in the River Medway, especially since would-be rescuers would often drown because they themselves could not swim to safety. The club used to swim in the River Medway, and would hold races, diving competitions and water polo matches. The South East Gazette July 1844 reported an aquatic breakfast party: coffee and biscuits were served on a floating raft in the river. The coffee was kept hot over a fire; club members had to tread water and drink coffee at the same time. The last swimmers managed to overturn the raft, to the amusement of 150 spectators.
The Amateur Swimming Association was founded in 1869 in England, and the Oxford Swimming Club in 1909. The presence of indoor baths in the cobbled area of Merton Street might have persuaded the less hardy of the aquatic brigade to join. So, bathers gradually became swimmers, and bathing pools became swimming pools. In 1939, Oxford created its first major public indoor pool at Temple Cowley.
The modern Olympic Games started in 1896 and included swimming races, after which the popularity of swimming pools began to spread. In the US, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia clubhouse (1907) boasts one of the world’s first modern above-ground swimming pools. The first swimming pool to go to sea on an ocean liner was installed on the White Star Line’s Adriatic in 1906. The oldest known public swimming pool in America, Underwood Pool, is located in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Interest in competitive swimming grew following World War I. Standards improved and training became essential. Home swimming pools became popular in the United States after World War II and the publicity given to swimming sports by Hollywood films such as Esther Williams’ Million Dollar Mermaid made a home pool a desirable status symbol. More than 50 years later, the home or residential swimming pool is a common sight. Some small nations enjoy a thriving swimming pool industry (e.g., New Zealand pop. 4,116,900 [Source NZ Census 7 March 2006] – holds the record in pools per capita with 65,000 home swimming pools and 125,000 spa pools).
A two-storey, white concrete swimming pool building composed of horizontal cubic volumes built in 1959 at the Royal Roads Military College is on the Registry of Historic Places of Canada.
According to the Guinness World Records, the largest swimming pool in the world is San Alfonso del Mar Seawater pool in Algarrobo, Chile. It is 1,013 m (3,323 ft) long and has an area of 8 ha (20 acres). At its deepest, it is 3.5 m (11 ft) deep. It was completed in December 2006.
The largest indoor wave pool in North America is at the West Edmonton Mall (Alberta, Canada) and the largest indoor pool is at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in the Sonny Carter Training Facility at NASA JSC in Houston, Texas, USA.
In 2014, the Y-40 swimming pool at the Hotel Terme Millepini in Padua, Italy became the deepest indoor pool at 42.15 m (138.3 ft), certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. The recreational diving center Nemo 33 near Brussels, Belgium previously held the record (34.5 m (113 ft)) from May 2004 until the Y-40 was completed in June 2014.
The Fleishhacker Pool in San Francisco was the largest heated outdoor swimming pool in the United States. Opened on 23 April 1925, it measured 1,000 by 150 ft (300 by 50 m) and was so large that the lifeguards required kayaks for patrol. It was closed in 1971 due to low patronage.
In Europe, the largest swimming pool opened in 1934 in Elbląg (Poland), providing a water area of 33,500 square metres (361,000 sq ft).
One of the largest swimming pools ever built was reputedly created in Moscow after the Palace of Soviets remained uncompleted. The foundations of the palace were converted into the Moskva Pool open-air swimming pool after the process of de-Stalinization. However, after the fall of communism, Christ the Saviour Cathedral was rebuilt on the site between 1995 and 2000; the cathedral had originally been located there.
The highest swimming pool is believed to be in Yangbajain (Tibet, China). This resort is located at 4200 m AMSL and has two indoor swimming pools and one outdoor swimming pool, all filled with water from hot springs (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
How do you tell if a swimming pool is safe for diving? It deepends…
Second, a Song:
Loudon Snowden Wainwright III (born September 5, 1946) is an American songwriter, folk singer, humorist, and actor. His sister is Sloan Wainwright. He is the father of musicians Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche, and is the former husband of the late folk singer Kate McGarrigle.
To date, Wainwright has released 24 studio albums, 4 live albums and 6 compilations, as well as appearing in at least 18 television programmes and feature films. Reflecting upon his career in 1999, he stated, “You could characterize the catalog as somewhat checkered, although I prefer to think of it as a tapestry.” In October 2017, Wainwright released his autobiography, Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, and a Few of My Other Favorite Things.
Wainwright’s career began in the late 1960s. He had played the guitar while in school but later sold it for yoga lessons while living in San Francisco. Later, in Rhode Island, Wainwright’s grandmother got him a job working in a boatyard. An old lobsterman named Edgar inspired him to borrow a friend’s guitar and write his first song, “Edgar”. Wainwright soon bought his own guitar and in about a year wrote nearly twenty songs. He went to Boston and New York City to play in folk clubs and was eventually noticed by Milton Kramer, who became his manager. He signed a record deal with Atlantic Records, which released his self-titled first album in 1970.
Wainwright is perhaps best known for the 1972 novelty song “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)” and for playing Captain Calvin Spalding (the “singing surgeon”) on the American television show M*A*S*H. His appearances spanned three episodes in its third season (1974–1975).
Using a witty, self-mocking style, Wainwright has recorded over twenty albums on eleven different labels. Three of his albums have been nominated for Grammy Awards: I’m Alright (1985), More Love Songs (1986), and High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2009), for which he won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in January 2010.
Wainwright has also appeared in a number of films, including small parts in The Aviator, Big Fish, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 28 Days, and Knocked Up, and the television series Undeclared and Parks and Recreation. In the UK he recorded sessions for John Peel from 1971 onwards and appeared on a simultaneous broadcast on BBC TV and on Radio 1 in February 1978 (known as Sight and Sound in Concert). However, it was in the late 1980s that he gained much wider popularity in Britain when he appeared as the resident singer with comedian Jasper Carrott in his UK show, Carrott Confidential, and has remained popular in the UK ever since.
He appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in the first season’s fifth episode, which was broadcast on November 15, 1975. He performed “Bicentennial” and “Unrequited to the Nth Degree” as a guest of host Robert Klein.
Wainwright has claimed that, like many of his contemporaries, he was inspired musically by seeing Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. He was one of many young folk singers tagged as the “new Dylan” in the early 1970s, a fact that he later ruefully satirized in his song, “Talking New Bob Dylan”, from the album History (1992).
Wainwright was a judge for the 4th annual Independent Music Awards.
According to his own liner notes, Wainwright entered a period of deep depression following the death of his mother in 1997 and believed he could never write again. Retreating to his mother’s cabin in the woods, he underwent therapy and gradually recovered, eventually recording the soul-baring Last Man on Earth in 2001. Since then, his recording career has mostly returned to its previous frequency.
In September 2006, Wainwright and musician Joe Henry began composing the music for the Judd Apatow film Knocked Up, which was released on June 1, 2007. In addition to composing the soundtrack, Wainwright appeared in the film in a supporting role as the protagonists’ obstetrician. He has also composed music for the new theatre production of Carl Hiaasen’s Lucky You, which premiered at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
As of 2020 Wainwright has continued to release new music (per Wikipedia).
Here is Loudon Wainwright and friends (Richard Thompson and Suzanne Vega) performing his composition: “The Swimming Song”. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” – Warren Buffett
Further to the Habeas Corpus and the Magna Carta Smile, Thomas Spraggs of Coquitlam, BC writes:
“Thanks Dave, this really was a delight!
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky