Swimming is one of the oldest and basic motor skills of a human. Humans probably started to imitate animal movements (dog) to swim. There is a number of proofs which show how popular swimming was mainly in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. There are tens of proofs of the popularity of this sport in ancient Egypt. They are mainly statuettes or paintings on walls or vases which depict swimming humans. Sometimes, also swimming women are depicted which proves that it was one of the few sports from which women were not banned. Mainly the nobility were interested in having their children taught to swim because they took it as a part of education. There is a famous quote by Plato: "He cannot neither read nor swim." Swimming was also important in trainings of the Roman army – specially trained swimmers were used in naval battles. In Greek mythology, there is a tale about Leander who used to swim every evening to his lover Hera (and back in the morning) through the Dardanelles (approx. 1,500 m + strong current).
In Rome, solders were taught to swim in Tiber River on the famous Campus Martius. They were swimming with clothes and weapons. A different chapter in history of swimming is Roman spa. However, swimming and water activities were also profaned in Rome. Apart from its purification function, Roman spa was associated with centers of vice. Gladiator water fights in a basin, so-called naumachia, can be regarded a complete downgrade of the idea. Some aspects of Roman spa had a negative influence on the perception of swimming, bathing and hygiene in general by the Christians. In the Middle Ages, human body was perceived as the tool of the Devil. Clean complexion was said to mean dirty soul. Only few people did refresh themselves in rivers or ponds. This prudery was eased only in the period of humanism. But still at that time, Comenius warned against swimming in the open air. Only further development of the society brought a change in the opinion on bathing and swimming.
Basis of Sports Training
All activities which are part of human behavior were subject to a long-term development. Let us take throwing, which is regarded a basic motor activity, as an example. In the deep past, throwing was necessary for feeding and defense. At present, throwing has lost its importance as one of the above mentioned activities but it is involved in different sports to a great extent (e.g. athletics, handball, baseball, etc.). The task of a prehistoric hunter was to hit the target precisely to get food. The aim of a present-day athlete is to throw the javelin as far as possible. The result of the activity in both examples can be considered a performance. Performance is understood as an extent to which motor task is accomplished. With the prehistoric hunter, performance is evaluated dichotomically: hitting the target or missing and it is not restricted by any rules. In the case of the athlete, performance is evaluated following rules of the sports discipline which were set in advance, it is expressed by the length of the throw and is understood as a sports performance. An ability to achieve a given performance repeatedly is referred to as efficiency.
The aim of sports training is to achieve maximum individual or team efficiency in a selected sports discipline limited by rules.
Reaching maximum efficiency in any activity is not possible over a day. Efficiency is conditioned by several interrelated areas. Sports training focuses on reaching maximum efficiency in motor abilities connected to a certain sports discipline. Supposed performance depends on motor ability and motor skill which are closely related to the sports discipline. Motor abilities can be described as relatively stable sets of inner genetic presuppositions needed to carry out locomotive activities. They include force, speed, endurance, coordination and flexibility. Motor abilities are manifested on the outside by sports skills. Sports skills are presuppositions needed for implementing performance in a selected sports discipline which is limited by rules. Such presuppositions are gained through motor learning. It, however, would not be possible to implement sports skills or develop locomotive abilities without motivation. Motivation is understood as an inner incentive to carry out certain activity. The final area needed for performance implementation is represented by tactical skills. Tactics means conducting a sports competition in a purposeful way.
Athletes need multilateral physical development as a training base as well as overall physical fitness. The purpose is to increase endurance and strength, develop speed, improve flexibility, and refine coordination, thus achieving a harmoniously developed body. We expect athletes with a strong base and a good overall development to improve athletic performance faster and better than those without this foundation. In addition, such athletes will have a superior body form, which increases their self-esteem and reflects a strong personality.
Sport-specific development improves absolute and relative strength, muscle mass and elasticity, specific strength (power or muscular endurance) according to the sport's requirements, movement and reaction time, and coordination and suppleness. This training creates the ability to perform all movements, especially those required by the sport, with ease and smoothness.
Technical training involves developing the capacity to perform all technical actions correctly; perfecting the required technique based on a rational and economical performance, with the highest possible velocity, high amplitude, and a demonstration of force; performing specific techniques under normal and unusual circumstances (e.g., weather); improving the technique of related sports; and ensuring the ability to perform all movements correctly.
Systematic development of the individual components of sports training is a long-term dynamic process, which has a predetermined logical relation. The processes of learning and development components of sports training can be divided into three areas. Physical component is developed in the processes of morpho-functional adaptation. Technical component is learning the processes of motor learning and psychological component is shaped in the processes of psychosocial interaction. A special place is occupied by tactical component which interferes into processes of both motor learning and psycho-social interaction.
In very simplified form we can talk about the process of morpho-functional adaptation to increased physical activity (the creation of energy reserves and energy distribution, the activity of various organs, etc.). At the same time you need to learn many new moves, but their acquisition is necessary to rely on principles of motor learning. Psycho-social aspects of sports training interaction are determined by real relationships of the participants in training and competition depending on their individual psychic condition. Sports training as a part of morpho-functional adaptation.