This week’s photos feature women’s swimming. The 1920s were an important time in women’s history, not only due to women’s suffrage, but because “while women pushed for voting rights, they also fought for equality in physical activities such as swimming. They believed that by showing their athletic side and fighting for more equal clothing options, they would further help the fight for equality.”1
“The first two women’s swimming groups were the National Women’s Life-Saving League and the Women’s Swimming Association. The two groups held small swim competitions such as open water swimming to ‘rescue’ a dummy in the water. The fight for women to compete in swimming events did not entirely revolve around the physical aspects of the sport, though. Another challenge facing women at the time was what was considered ‘acceptable’ clothing for women in public. They were required to be covered from head to toe in the water and were forced to wear stockings, a skirt, and shoes into the water while swimming. The clothes were often made of heavy wool, making it harder for women to swim fast.”1
“Women were first allowed to participate in the Olympics in 1912…but American women were not eligible to swim until the Olympics of 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium, due to the long skirt rule in the 1910s which required women to wear full length skirts and show no legs.”1
“Women’s times have significantly improved over the past 100 years with the improvement of pools, timing systems, blocks, lane lines, and of course – swim suits.” “As the 100-year anniversary of American women swimming in the Olympics approaches, women will finally gain equality in competitive swimming events.”1
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Women’s Recreation Wednesday!
Photos courtesy of UG 69 (University of Idaho Women’s Recreation Association Photographs)