The Oldest Swimming Pools in the World

Swimming pools did not become popular in mainstream society until post World War II.
Swimming pools did not become popular in mainstream society until post World War II.

A swimming pool is designed to hold water for swimming. Swimming pools can be built on any level of the ground or as a free standing structure. The most common pools are "inground", meaning they are built into the ground and are of custom size and shape. Pools can be indoor or outdoor and can include private pools, public pools, children’s pool, and competition (or "olympic sized" pools. The construction of swimming pools began as early as the 3rd millennium BC but did not become popular in the 19th century. Today, cities and urban areas around the world boast of modern and state of the art swimming pools.

Examples Of Oldest Swimming Pools

The Great Bath, Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan

The Great Bath is a water pool forming part of the ruins of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization at Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan. It is the oldest known swimming pool in the world, estimated to have been built in the 3rd Millennium BC. The pool measures 38.9 feet by 23 feet and reaches a depth of 7.9 feet. It had two staircases on opposite ends of the pool. The pool's floor is fitted with bricks and overlaid with a thick layer of bitumen. No inlet drain has been found in the pool leading to speculation that the pool relied on rain water and water from a well that was dug in one of the rooms located along the eastern edge. The Great Bath may have been used for religious functions such as purification.

Kuttam Pokuna, Sri Lanka

Kuttam Pokuna is a pair of bathing tanks or pools that were used in ancient Sri Lanka. The pools were built by the Sinhalese in the old kingdom of Anuradhapura and were considered a major achievement in hydrological engineering as well an outstanding artistic work of the Sinhalese. A 18.5-feet long garden separates the two pools. The larger pool measures 132 feet by 51 feet while the smaller one measures 91 feet by 51 feet. A wall is built around the pool while the pool is also fitted with stairs on both ends. Water flows to the pool through an underground duct that is first filtered before getting into the pool. Embankments were built to enable monks to take a bath using pots and other utensils.

Deep Eddy Pool, Texas

Deep Eddy Pool is a historic pool in Texas featuring a bathhouse which dates back to the Depression era. It began as a swimming hole in the Colorado River with people swimming in the river where a boulder formed an eddy. The land surrounding the pool was bought in 1915 by Eilers who constructed a concrete pool. The City of Austin bought the pool in 1935. Deep Eddy Pool was rebuilt and opened to the public in 1936 after being destroyed by a massive flood in 1935. Today, the pool is popular for both children and adults. It is fed with water from a 35-foot well.

The Status Of The Oldest Swimming Pools

Most of the oldest swimming pools are well maintained and are still in use today. The pools have undergone several renovations and rebuildings to upgrade them to the modern standard. The three oldest pools, the Great Bath, Kuttam Pokuna, and Roman Pool are preserved as monuments and are not open for use but can be accessed by the public who want to view them. Some of the undocumented pools constructed before civilization are believed to have been buried underneath the earth.

The Oldest Swimming Pools in the World

RankPool NameLocationYear Created
1Great BathPakistan3rd Millenium BCE
2Kuttam PokunaSri Lanka4th Century BCE
3Roman PoolItaly1st Century BCE
4Maidstone Swimming ClubEngland1844
5Racquet Club of PhiladelphiaUnited States1907
6White Star Line AdriaticCruise Ship1907
7Aquatic Swim Club, MortonUnited States1907
8Underwood PoolUnited States1912
9Deep Eddy PoolUnited States1915
10Temple CowleyEngland1939

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