A outdoor lap pool, swimming bath, wading pool, or paddling pool is a structure designed to hold water to enable swimming or other leisure activities. Outdoor lap pools can be built into the ground (in ground pools) or built above ground (as a freestanding construction or as part of a building or other larger structure), and are also a standard feature aboard oceanliners and cruise ships. In-ground pools are most commonly constructed from materials such as concrete, natural stone, metal, plastic or fiberglass, and can be of a custom size and shape or built to a standardised size, the largest of which is the Olympic-size swimming pool.
Swimming pools became popular in Britain in the mid-19th century. As early as 1837, six indoor pools with diving boards existed in London, England. The Maidstone Swimming Club in Maidstone, Kent is believed to be the oldest surviving swimming club in Britain. It was formed in 1844, in response to concerns over drownings in the River Medway, especially since would-be rescuers would often drown because they themselves could not swim to safety. The club used to swim in the River Medway, and would hold races, diving competitions and water polo matches. The South East Gazette July 1844 reported an aquatic breakfast party: coffee and biscuits were served on a floating raft in the river. The coffee was kept hot over a fire; club members had to tread water and drink coffee at the same time. The last swimmers managed to overturn the raft, to the amusement of 150 spectators.
Length: Most outdoor lap pools in the world are measured in metres, but in the United States outdoor lap pools are often measured in feet and yards. In the UK most pools are calibrated in metres, but older pools measured in yards still exist. In the US, pools tend to either be 25 yards (SCY-short course yards), 25 metres (SCM-short course metres) or 50 metres (long course). US high schools and the NCAA conduct short course (25 yards) competition. There are also many pools 33⅓ m long, so that 3 lengths = 100 m. This pool dimension is commonly used to accommodate water polo.
USA Swimming (USA-S) swims in both metric and non-metric pools. However, the international standard is metres, and world records are only recognized when swum in 50 m pools (or 25 m for short course) but 25-yard pools are very common in the US. In general, the shorter the pool, the faster the time for the same distance, since the swimmer gains speed from pushing off the wall after each turn at the end of the pool.
Width: Most European pools are between 10 m and 50 m wide.
Depth: The depth of a swimming pool depends on the purpose of the pool, and whether it is open to the public or strictly for private use. If it is a private casual, relaxing pool, it may go from 1.0 to 2.0 m (3.3 to 6.6 ft) deep. If it is a public pool designed for diving, it may slope from 3.0 to 5.5 m (10 to 18 ft) in the deep end. A children’s play pool may be from 0.3 to 1.2 m (1 to 4 ft) deep. Most public pools have differing depths to accommodate different swimmer requirements. In many jurisdictions, it is a requirement to show the water depth with clearly marked depths affixed to the pool walls.