Norwegian Boys' Activities: Swimming

Figure 1.--Here we see Norwegian boys at a sea bathing facility in the early-20th century. They don't seem too apprehensive about the cold water, but don't seem to care for the photographer.

Norway like Chile has one of the world's largest ratio of coatline to land area. Thus swimming would seem a likely activity. Swimming seems another popular activity, at lease we see a lot of Norwegian boys being taught to swim. We have found quite a number of photographs from the ealy-20th century of 'badehus', camps and other facilities where boys were taught to swim. As far as we can tell they were for boys and adult men. We see many of the boys without bathing suits. We only see men and boys at these facilities. It is possible that there were also facilities for girls and women, but we can not yet confirm tht. We don't have photographic evidence. In the public beaches and in resorts attended by families, aduldts and teenagers wore bathing suits. Given North Sea and Baltic water tempertures we can assume that Norwegian boys were a hearty lot. And the summer months are linited in Norway. The water temperatures probably explains why there are few Norwegian swimming Olympians. Perhaps we see so many boys learming to swim because fishing and shipping were such an important part of the economy and of of course it would a good idea to for people working at sea to know how to swim. And we do not note very many girls learning to swim in the early-20th century. Modern children have heated indoor pools, but this is afairly recent innovation. We are boy sure when organized swimming lessons began, but believe it was the late-19th centuty. A Norwegian reader found an illustration of a 'badehus' (literally bathhouse) in Akershusstranda near Oslo from the 1890s. How much earlier we are unsure. The earliest photographs we see are from the turn-of-the 20th century, but this is when we begin to see snapshots. We suyspect thar=t as in much of northern Europe there are bow indoor swiming faciklities.


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Created: 11:58 PM 2/14/2016
Last updated: 9:53 AM 11/23/2018