Swimming may not carry the same sporting glamour as other Olympic events, yet there's no denying that it can be a draw for both live spectators and viewers at home. Just think of how the 2012 London Olympics made Tom Daley a household name, as well as winning him a bronze medal. The two weeks of the games, from the 5th August until the 21st August, will offer viewers a variety of swimming events, from dives that are over in seconds to a 10km marathon swim lasting around 2 hours. It all promises an exciting experience for viewers as they cheer on their nation and hope for Olympic medal success. So which swimming events will we be watching at the Rio Olympics this summer?
The diving competition is one that many viewers will be watching for the 'Daley factor', and no doubt people will be cheering him on hoping he can repeat his London success. Both men and women will be competing in a variety of events involving dives from a 3 metre springboard and a 10 metre platform, with synchronised and individual dives for each one. There will be 136 competitors in eight events from the 7th to the 19th of August.
Heading out into the open for a 10km race in open water means that viewers will be catching some pretty spectacular Rio scenery along the route. Sadly, the participants will be far too busy focussing on their performance, but this race certainly presents a very different challenge from the diving events. Introduced in the 2008 Beijing games, it's an example of one of the endurance events that form part of the Olympics. The open-water marathon swimming events will be held over two days, on the 15th and 16th of August with the stunning backdrop of Copacabana Beach.
Back in the indoor pool, there will be a variety of swimming events for both male and female teams, all held over the first week of the games (6-13 August). Freestyle events range from 50 to 800m, whereas backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke events are 100m and 200m. Then there's an individual medley in 200m and 400m, a 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relay, and a 4x100m medley relay. So swim fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to Olympic viewing.
Both male and female athletes participate in the majority of Olympic events; synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are the only two events that are exclusive to women. Synchronised swimming is often derided as more spectacle than sport, but it's just as challenging in its own way as any of the other sports you'll see at the Olympics. The swimmers can be underwater for minutes at a time, and must show considerable muscle strength and flexibility. So watch the synchronised swimming events, and you'll be impressed by just how much effort the participants are putting into it. This section of the Games will be held from the 15th to the 20th of August.
In addition to the exclusively swimming events, there are also athletes who take part in Olympic events involving swimming and other sports - namely the modern pentathlon and the modern triathlon. Being an all-round athlete demands a particular kind of strength and endurance, especially when you're participating in five very different disciplines - and all of them on the same day. The pentathlon consists of 200m freestyle swimming, pistol shooting, show jumping, a 3.2km cross-country run, and a fencing match. Swimming was not included in the original pentathlon held in the ancient games and the women's pentathlon was only added as recently as the year 2000. The Modern Pentathlons take place on the 19th and 20th of August.
While the modern triathlon only covers three sports, compared to the five of the pentathlon, the swimming component is much longer than the 200m event of the pentathlon. Participants in the triathlon are required to complete a swim of 1.5 km or 1500m. Add to this a 10km run and a 40km cycle ride, and you can see that while the pentathlon is more about versatility in different disciplines, the triathlon really is an endurance sport. The three sections of the triathlon are completed consecutively, meaning that triathletes really do have to push themselves to the limits. The Triathlons will be held on the 18th and 20th of August.
While water polo may not be seen as a swimming event, it does actually require participants to swim up to 1500m in a game. There are American and European version, but the Olympic sport follows mainly European rules. As with the modern pentathlon, water polo was a men-only event until the Sydney Games in 2000. This year's events will take place from the 6th to the 20th of August. The sport is dynamic, energetic, and for all ages, so if you're inspired and want a great work out, consider joining a water polo team.
Will you be keeping up with the Rio Olympics swimming? Which event are you looking forward to?