12 Vintage Photos of People Learning to Swim

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Getty Images

As you head to the beach or the pool this Memorial Day weekend, enjoy these excellent historical photos of people taking (or preparing to take) a dip.

1. In 1906, the preferred method of teaching kids to swim looked a lot like fishing. These children are in the River Thames at Wallingford, kept afloat by ropes attached to poles.

2. Fast forward to 1923, when schoolboys had to master their swimming strokes on dry land—and their buddies—before getting anywhere near the water.

3. Youngsters at Brighton get their feet wet while learning proper form on August 20, 1934. 

4. This student, taking a swimming lesson at Falkirk Technical School on November 1, 1935, displays good diving form. 

5. Members of the Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham, south London, learn how to swim on November 19, 1935.

6. Schoolboys aren't the only ones who learn to swim on dry land: So do these soldiers, training at Aldershot on March 26, 1936.

7. How did these students from Woodthorpe Council School celebrate their new pool, which was completed in February 1938? By taking a swimming lesson, of course!

8. One of the most important parts of learning how to swim? Learning how to float. This woman learned how in 1955.

9. This novice swimmer is instructed on the proper form for a dive during his 1955 lesson.

10. In this photo, circa 1955, little Cecelia Novel sure looks like she's enjoying her first swimming lesson in the ocean. She's guided by an excellent instructor: Her mom!

11. These schoolgirls are clinging to the pool wall, kicking furiously, during a swimming lesson on June 19, 1962.

12. These girls—pupils at the Virgo Fidelis Convent School—are having a swimming lesson at Crystal Palace Recreation Centre on October 2, 1967. Their names are marked on their swimming caps so they can be easily identified in the water.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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