The practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition is called tapering.A final stage is often referred to as "shave and taper": the swimmer shaves off all exposed hair for the sake of reducing drag and having a sleeker and more hydrodynamic feel in the water.Captain Matthew Webb was the first man to swim the English Channel (between England and France), in 1875.Using the breaststroke technique, he swam the channel 21.26 miles (34.21 km) in 21 hours and 45 minutes. Other European countries also established swimming federations; Germany in 1882, France in 1890 and Hungary in 1896.Swimming is an event at the Summer Olympic Games, where male and female athletes compete in 16 of the recognized events each.Olympic events are held in a 50-meter pool, called a long course pool.
Women's swimming was introduced into the Olympics in 1912; the first international tournament for women outside the Olympics was the 1922 Women's Olympiad.In open water swimming, where the events are swum in a body of open water (lake or sea), there are also 5 km, 10 km and 25 km events for men and women.However, only the 10 km event is included in the Olympic schedule, again for both men and women.Butterfly was developed in the 1930s and was at first a variant of breaststroke, until it was accepted as a separate style in 1952.
Competitive swimming became popular in the 19th century.
However, some professional swimmers who do not hold a national or world ranking are considered the best in regard to their technical skills.