The freestyle swimming stroke was thought to have originated in Australia which is partially true. The stroke used to be called the “Australian Crawl” because competitive swimmers from Australia were winning events with this stroke. It is said the freestyle was originally from the pacific islands possibly the Solomon’s.
There is a story which is probably true about a boy from the Solomon Islands who went to work in Australia in the 1800’s. He used to swim in one of the local pools using this stroke and someone pointed out that it looked like he was crawling. A swim coach took the basics of this stroke and refined it to what is the freestyle of today. The Australians were winning races with this stroke and the world took notice.
The first modern Olympic Games in 1896 had only four swimming events, three of them freestyle. Two of these events were the 100 meters and 1500 meters freestyle races that were held in the open water. In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller was the first person to break the one minute mark in the 100 meter freestyle swimming it in 51 seconds, it was called the Australian crawl back then.
He held this record for over 17 years. He also won five Olympic medals and 36 national championships and never lost a race in his career of ten years. He later went on to play Tarzan in a series of movies, always shown swimming in a small body of water or fighting an alligator underwater.