The History of Aquatics: 1926 - 1938.
1926 American Gertrude Ederle is the first woman to swim the English Channel (beating all previous men's times).
1928 Clarence "Buster" Crabbe takes a bronze medal in 1,500-meter freestyle in the 1926 Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands. But he makes his mark four years later in the Los Angeles Games, winning gold in the 400 freestyle, edging world-record holder Jean Tans of France by 1/10th of a second. "That 1/10th of a second changed my life," he says at the time. "It was then that [the Hollywood producers] discovered latent histrionic abilities in me." Crabbe goes on to star in Aquacades and make nearly 200 movies. He stars in roles such as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Tarzan and Captain Gallant. In 1965, he becomes a charter inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
1930s Companies such as Ruud, Rheem and A.O. Smith begin adapting heaters for pool use. In 1932, the first heated pool in the United States is built at the William Wrigley Estate on Catalina Island, off the Southern California coast.
1930 The American Association of Pools and Beaches is formed, in response to the rapid development of the swimming industry during the 1920s. N.S. Alexander of Woodside Pool and Crystal Pool of Philadelphia is the first president. Four years later, the group becomes part of the National Association of Amusement Parks, which later changes its name to IAAPA.
1932 More than 1 million swimmers a year are reported to participate in the YMCA's programs,
1933-45 Calling it his "little White House," President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who suffers from polio, travels to Warm Springs, Ga., for therapeutic baths, spurring public interest in hydrotherapy.
1934 The second year of the Chicago World's Fair features 24 'modern mermaids" trained by Katherine Curtis to swim to orchestral accompaniment in two long, separated areas, perfectly synchronized with each other and the music. It is here that the term "synchronized swimming" replaces the terms "formation swimming," "water ballet" and "rhythmic swimming."
1935 Pete Peterson, a Santa Monica, Calif., lifeguard, invents a precursor to what is today known as the rescue tube (or the Peterson tube). According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, he builds an inflatable, bright yellow tube with a snap hook molded onto one end and a 14-inch strap on the other, with a line and harness attached. The tube is used by many lifeguard services into the early 1960s.
1935 Men's topless swimsuits are commonly worn for the first time in the United States.
1935 Chauncey Hyatt of the Illinois Health Department writes perhaps the first pool regulations for the state's 600 public pools.
1936 17-year-old American Adolph Kiefer (right) wins the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the Berlin Olympics, the launching point to a lifelong and multifaceted career in aquatics. After dominating backstroke competition until 1941, he joins the Navy and becomes an influential voice for aquatic safety programs. After his military service, Kiefer goes on to start his own aquatics supply company and becomes an official pool equipment supplier for numerous Olympiads. In 1948, he introduces the nylon swimsuit, a lightweight alternative to wool and cotton suits, far less expensive than the silk suits used at the time. Kiefer's revolutionary suit at the 1948 Olympic Games attracts much praise and attention from the entire sporting community, and the design is picked up by an Australian company, Speedo. In 1966, he patents the first "wave-eating" racing lane lines, quelling turbulence in the pool by encapsulating and entrapping the vibrating wake from swimmers. It is one of more than a dozen patents for Ki efer, and USA Swimming calls it one of the top 25 innovations in swimming.
1936 The YMCA holds its first National Aquatic Conference. In 1937, the first National Institute on Swimming and Diving is held in Chicago. The event draws 137 delegates from the U.S. and Canada. The National Aquatic Committee is formed.
1937 Billy Rose, famous show impresario, stages the first of the really professional aqua shows of the 20th century. The aquacade is part of Cleveland's Great Lakes Expo and features swimmers-turned-actors Johnny Weissmuller and Eleanor Holm.
1937 The Red Cross' Cal Bryant publishes two landmark books, Swimming and Diving and Life Saving and Water Safety.
1938 The YMCA conducts its first national certification of aquatic directors and instructors. More than 200 are certified in the first year.