Search the Collection
Advanced Search
Image Not Available

Manual of swimming including, bathing, plunging, diving, floating, scientific swimming, training, drowning and rescuing

Date: 1867
Overall: 23 x 165 x 110 mm, 0.3 kg
Display Dimensions: 166 x 113 x 24 mm
Medium: Ink on paper, board
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00003816

User Terms

    Red hardback book, 200 pages, with the full title: 'Manual of Swimming : including bathing, plunging, diving, floating, scientific swimming, training, drowning and rescuing' by Charles Steedman, several years champion swimmer of England and Victoria.
    SignificanceCharles Steedman's 'Manual of Swimming' was the first major technical work to be published on the sport of speed swimming. The work was popular in Australia and in England and heralds the start of swimming's modern era.
    HistoryCharles Steedman was born on 9th July 1830 in London, England. His eventful life would see him become a champion swimmer in England and Australia, and his professional and sporting interests combined in the successful publication of his book, 'Manual of Swimming'.

    Steedman did not learn to swim until the age of 13, but like every venture he attempted, he quickly excelled in the sport. At the age of 19 Steedman took the national championship from G. Pewters, who swam the new racing style of the day – the sidestroke. In 1852 and 1853 Steedman beat Frederick Beckwith to claim the Surrey Club Championship, an event commonly regarded as the Championship of England.

    Professionally, Charles Steedman was a self-educated man who had worked in a variety of occupations before he immigrated to Australia during the gold rushe of the 1850s. As an 11 year old, Steedman had begun as a mapmaker before working as a chemist’s assistant two years later. At fourteen he began an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker while also studying grammar and mathematics at evening classes. By the age of 19, Steedman was working successfully as a piano-maker. Despite a busy working life, somehow, at the close of an arduous 10 hour working day, Steedman still managed to find the time to train as a swimmer.

    Steedman’s arrival in Melbourne in 1854, as the swimming champion of England, caused considerable interest among local swimmers who had heard of his exploits. He continued to swim competitively in his new country, and went on to become champion of Victoria. An article in Melbourne’s The Argus, dated 25 February 1867 and titled ‘Swimming matches at Sandridge’, describes Steedman’s feats, and mentions that several competitors later declined to enter the water after seeing him swim. Professionally, in Australia Steedman worked as a journalist before becoming schoolmaster.

    His professional and sporting skills combined with the 1857 publication of his book, Manual of Swimming. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame describes this book as ‘marking the beginning of swimming’s modern era’. As a practical book written by an experienced, champion swimmer (rather than an author or scientist), it contains some of the earliest descriptions of racing strokes and training methods and was the first major technical contribution to the new sport of ‘speed swimming’. Steedman’s international influence on the early years of this sport was confirmed when the book was published to great success in London, six years later.

    Charles Steedman died at the age of 71 in 1901 in North Williamstown, Victoria. His impact on the sport of swimming was recognised both nationally and internationally over a century after his death when in 2000 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in 2006 when he was recognised by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: 'Manual of Swimming' by Charles Steedman

    Primary title: Manual of swimming including, bathing, plunging, diving, floating, scientific swimming, training, drowning and rescuing

    Related People

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.