- Swimming as an organized activity goes back as far as 2500 B.C. in ancient Egypt and later in ancient Greece, Rome, and Assyria. In Rome and Greece, swimming was part of the education of elementary age boys and the Romans built the first swimming pools (separate from bathing pools). The first heated swimming pool was built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the first century BC.
- Ancient civilizations left ample evidence of their swimming abilities. Bas-relief artwork in an Egyptian tomb from around 2,000 B.C. shows an overarm stroke like the front crawl. The Assyrians showed an early breaststroke in their stone carvings. The Hittites, the Minoans, and other early civilizations left drawings of swimming and diving skills.
- The first municipal pool in the U.S. was built in Brookline, Mass., in 1887. Soon after that, New York City built public facilities, then called "baths."
- In 1928, David Armbruster first filmed swimmers under water to study strokes. The Japanese also photographed and studied world-class athletes, using their research to produce a swim team that dominated the 1932 Olympic Games. This marked the beginning of research into stroke mechanics.
- During the Middle Ages, people feared water because they thought it contained diseases. Swimming was not again appreciated until the nineteenth century when it became popular in England. People felt they could finally trust the water to be free of disease.
- In 1946 war rationing of material inspired the invention of the two piece bathing suite, called a "bikini." It was named for a U.S. nuclear testing site in the South Pacific.
Ice cream (I'm doing ice cream for the pot luck on Monday!):
- The first frozen dessert is credited to Emperor Nero of Rome. It was a mixture of snow (which he sent his slaves into the mountains to retrieve) and nectar, fruit pulp and honey. Another theory is Marco Polo, 13th century bard and adventurer, brought with him to Europe from the Far East recipes for water ices....said to be used in Asia for thousands of years.
- Italo Marchiony sold his homemade ice cream from a pushcart on Wall Street. He reduced his overhead caused by customers breaking or wandering off with his serving glasses by baking edible waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom. He patented his idea in 1903.
- In 1983, Cookies 'N Cream, made with real Oreo cookies, became an instant hit, climbing to number five on the list of best-selling ice cream flavors. It also holds the distinction of being the fastest growing new flavor in the history of the ice cream industry.
- The biggest ice cream sundae ever made was 12 feet high and made with 4,667 gallons of ice cream and 7,000 pounds of toppings in Anaheim, Calif., during 1985.
- During the stuffy Victorian period, drinking soda water was considered improper, so some towns banned its sale on Sundays. An enterprising druggist in Evanston, IN, reportedly concocted a legal Sunday alternative containing ice cream and syrup, but no soda. To show respect for the Sabbath, he later changed the spelling to "sundae."
- Dolly Madison created a sensation when she served ice cream as a dessert in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.
And just to round things out, a few things about the spectator sport of the season, Baseball:
- In a typical season major league baseball will require 4,800 ash trees worth of Louisville sluggers.
- In an effort to sell more licensed apparel, minor-league baseball teams were changing their names so often that the sport's governing body now limits franchises to team name changes every three years.
- The first perfect nine innings baseball game was achieved by John Lee Richmond on June 12, 1880.
- Baseball ended one of its oldest traditions in 1997 when inter league play begin for the first time. This means that teams from the American league can play National league teams during the regular season. The first inter league game was played on June 12, 1997.
- The inventor of baseball is also credited with firing the first Union shot of Civil war.
- The baseball tradition of spring training came about because in 1885 the Chicago White Stockings went to Hot Springs in Arkansas to prepare for the new season.
- In July 1934, Babe Ruth paid a fan $20 dollars for the return of the baseball he hit for his 700th career home run.