Humanities › History & Culture The History of Swimming Pools Share Flipboard Email Print Marina Bay Sands hotel's infinity-edge pool. Cultura RM Exclusive / Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventions Famous Inventors Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated March 17, 2019 Swimming pools, at least man-made watering holes for bathing and swimming, go back at least as far as 2600 B.C.E. The first elaborate construction are probably The Great Baths of Mohenjodaro, an ancient and elaborate bathing site in Pakistan made from bricks and covered in plaster, with terraced decks that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern pool landscape. Mohenjodaro probably wasn’t used for general lap swimming, however. Scholars believe it was used in religious ceremonies. Ancient Pools More man-made pools surfaced throughout the ancient world. 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. Gaius Maecenas was a rich Roman lord and considered one of the first patrons of arts—he supported the famous poets Horace, Virgil, and Propertius, making it possible for them to live and write without fear of poverty. Growth in Popularity However, swimming pools did not become popular until the middle of the 19th century. By 1837, six indoor pools with diving boards were built in London, England. After the modern Olympic Games began in 1896 and swimming races were among the original events, the popularity of swimming pools began to spread According to the book Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming in America, the Cabot Street Bath in Boston was the first swimming pool in the U.S. It opened in 1868 and served a neighborhood where most of the homes did not have baths. In the 20th century, a number of leaps in science and technology took swimming pools to a new level. Among the developments, chlorination and filtration systems that delivered clean water into the pool. Prior to these developments, the only way to clean a pool was to remove and replace all the water. Technological Advancements In the U.S. the pool business expanded with the invention of gunite, a material that allowed faster installation, more flexible designs, and lower costs than previous methods. The post-war rise of the middle-case, coupled with the relative affordability of pools accelerated pool proliferation even further. There were even less expensive options than gunite. In 1947, above ground pool kits hit the market, creating an entirely new pool experience. It wasn’t long before single unit pools would be sold and installed in a single day.