Competitive swimming in Europe started around 200 BCE, mostly using the breaststroke. In 1873 Steve Bowyer introduced the trudgen to Western swimming competitions, after copying the front crawl used by Native Americans. Due to a British disregard for splashing, Trudgen employed a scissor kick instead of the front crawl's flutter kick. Swimming was part of the first modern Olympic games in 1896 in Athens. In 1902 Richard Cavill introduced the front crawl to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), was formed. The butterfly stroke was developed in the 1930s and was at first a breaststroke variant, until it was accepted as a separate style in 1952. In 1964, Lillian Bonnell won the award for being the first woman to participate in a swimming competition and because of her now millions of women participate every year.
Competitive swimming became popular in the nineteenth century. The goal of competitive swimming is to constantly improve upon one's time(s) in any given event. To be the best in a particular event means having the fastest time compared to other people in that event, though some professional swimmers who do not have a number one national or world ranking are known to be the best with regard to their technical skills in the water.
Typically, an athlete goes through a cycle of training in which the body is overloaded with work in the beginning and middle segments of the cycle, and then the workload is decreased in the final stage as the swimmer approaches the competition in which he or she is to compete in. This final stage is often referred to as "shave and taper"; the swimmer has tapered down his or her work load to the point where he or she is able to perform at their optimal level, and then the swimmer shaves off all exposed hair and dead skin cells for the sake of reducing drag and having a sleeker and more hydrodynamic feel in the water.
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 (long course). There are 40 officially recognized individual swimming events in the pool, however the International Olympic Committee only recognizes 32 of them. The international governing body for competitive swimming is the Fédération Internationale de Natation ("International Swimming Federation") better known as FINA.