Learning to Swim

The Art of Swimming


The Art of Swimming

The unfortunate, unofficial end of the summer comes to the US this Labor Day Weekend. With that in mind, a visual explainer from 1587.

Via The Public Domain Review:

Illustrations from Everard Digby’s De Arte Natandi (The Art of Swimming) published in 1587, considered the first English treatise on the practice. Divided into two parts, the first is largely theoretical (Digby wrote in Latin, though it would be translated into English by Christopher Middleton eight years later). The second part is concerned with practical demonstration borne out in a series of 40 beautiful woodcuts, all composed from five landscape blocks into which swimmers in various positions have been placed. The work was hugely influential, not just providing a practical guide to staying afloat and different strokes but also in its attention to issues of safety. As the Wellcome Library blog notes: “The work is alive to the dangers of swimming outdoors: Digby makes careful note of the safest methods of entering rivers, warning against jumping in feet first (particularly if the water has a muddy bottom to which your feet would stick) and advocating a slow and patient entry. Swimmers are also advised to have a companion with them, to help if they get into difficulties.

Images: The Art of Swimming, by Everard Digby, via The Public Domain Review. View the complete set on Flickr. Select to embiggen.

Michael Cervieri
michael@thefjp.org

Michael Cervieri is the creator of the Future Journalism Project where he explores better ways to produce, consume and understand the news. He has taught Internet and Mobile communication technologies at both the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the university’s School of International and Public Affairs. (Twitter | Contact)