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Evolution of the Australian Crawl (c.1952)


This short documentary made by Kingcroft Productions presents the history of freestyle swimming from the 1880s and the gradual development of the Australian crawl, the fastest stroke in the world of competitive swimming. The film features former Australian swimming champions (including Fanny Durack, Andrew 'Boy’ Charlton and Sir Frank Beaurepaire) recreating the different stroke styles of swimming pioneers and includes examples of the single overarm action, the double overarm, the trudgen kick, the trudgen crawl, and the six beat crawl.

Curator’s notes

This film is part of the 'Advance Australia’ documentary series made in the 1950s, of which Kingcroft Productions produced a number of episodes. It was approved and endorsed by the Commonwealth National Fitness Council, the NSW Department of Education (Physical Education Division) and the NSW Union of Old Swimmers (whose members included some of the former swimming champions featured in the film). In addition to promoting the importance of swimming in health and fitness activities, Evolution of the Australian Crawl also encourages an appreciation of the legacy left by great Australian swimming champions of the past and highlights the innovation which led to one of the most widely used swimming strokes today. Historical swimming events and significant developments in the evolution of the crawl are recreated in a small pool in Sydney as well as in Sydney harbour.