Paintings from the Stone Age have been found in “the cave of swimmers” near Wadi Sora (or Sura) in the South-West of Egypt near Libya. These images seem to show breaststroke or dog paddle, although it could be possible that the movements associated with a ritual meaning unrelated to swimming. This cave is also depicted in the movie English Patient.
An Egyptian clay seal dated between 4000 and 9000 BC shows four swimmers who are believed to swim with the variety of freestyle. More references to swimming are found in Babylonian bas-reliefs and Assyrian wall paintings in the variation of the breaststroke. The most famous paintings have been found in the Kebir desert and thought to date from around 4000 years BC.
Nagoda relief also shows swimmers from 3000 years BC. Mohenjo Daro Indian palace from 2800 years BC has a pool measuring 30 mx 60 m. Minoan palace Minos of Knossos in Crete also equipped with a bath. Ancient Egyptian tombs from 2000 BC shows a variant of the free.
Depictions of swimmers were also found on the Hittites, Minoans, and other Middle Eastern societies, the Incas in the House Tepantitla at Teotihuacan, and the mosaics at Pompeii. Written references are from 2000 years BC, including Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Bible (Ezekiel 47:5, Covenants 27:42, Isaiah 25:11), Beowulf, and other sagas, although his style is never explained. There are also many mentions of swimmers in the Vatican codex, Borgian and Bourbon.
The Greeks were not included swimming at the ancient Olympic Games, but practiced the sport, often building a swimming pool as part of their baths. One common insult in Greece was to say about someone that he does not know how to run nor swim. Etruscan people in Tarquinia (Italy) show pictures of swimmers in the 600 years BC, and ancient Greek tombs show images swimmers 500 BC.
Sicilian Greeks had been taken captive on a ship Persian king Xerxes I in 480 BC. After knowing the attacks would come to the Greek navy, he stole a knife and jumped overboard. Throughout the night and using a ventilator (snorkel) made of reed, he swam back to the boat and cut the rope.
Also stated that swimming lessons for adults have saved the Greeks at the battle of Salamis, when the Persians all drowned when their boat was destroyed. Julius Caesar is also known as a good swimmer. A series of reliefs from 850 BC in the Nimrud Gallery of the British Museum show swimmers, mostly in military context, often using swimming aids.
In Japan swimming was one of honorable Samurai expertise, and historical records describe swimming competitions in the year 36 BC organized by emperor Suigui (spelling unclear), which was first known swimming races. German folklore describes swimming, which was used successfully in the war against the Romans. The competition pool is also known from then on.