Swimming in Ancient China - History of Swimming
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Swimming in China

Zhou Dynasty swimmers
Zhou Dynasty swimmers (Sichuan bronze vessel, ca. 750 BC)

The very first people to arrive in China from Africa about 50,000 BC probably already knew how to swim. People in China were certainly swimming by the time of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, about 750 BC, because the Book of Odes has a proverb telling people to "Row across if it is is deep and swim across when it is shallow." In the picture, military divers are swimming underwater to stave in and sink enemy ships.

Chinese women swimming
Women swimming in China
(Dunhuang Cave painting, ca. 500 AD)

Like people in other parts of the world, people in China used the crawl stroke.

By 500 AD, swimmers in China could also do the back crawl, as you can see in this picture. Like people everywhere else in the world at this time, everybody in China swam naked.

During the Song Dynasty, acrobats started doing fancy dives off swings. There were swimming competitions, and people surfed in the waves at the mouth of the Yangtze River, just like they did on the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii.

Later swimming in China

Swimming in North and South America
Swimming after 1500 AD

Bibliography and further reading:

Chinese games (Kung Fu)
Indian games (Parcheesi, Chess, Chutes and Ladders)
Central Asian games (Gladiators)
Quatr.us home


Celebrating Black History Month with the pharaoh Hatshepsut, the queen Shanakdakhete, the poet Phillis Wheatley, the medical consultant Onesimus, the freedom fighters Toussaint L'Ouverture, Denmark Vesey, Yaa Asantewaa, and Samora Moises Machel, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Proud of your class page, homework page, or resource page? Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Cool stuff we've been enjoying: Looking for birthday gifts? Check out these new Chromebooks - all the computer you need for only $229.00!. Then study in peace with these Beats wireless headphones - for the exact same price! When you're done, show off your presentation or watch a movie with this excellent smartphone projector for only $39.99!


Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
ADVERTISEMENT
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 25 February, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT