[caption id="attachment_21832" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2018\/08\/GH_Swimming01.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="401" class="size-full wp-image-21832" \/> Whether it\u2019s THE call of a swimming hole or a swimming pool, Pocahontas Countians have answered for decades. Above, in 2011, Pocahontas County High School Warriors cool off in Knapps Creek after a summer practice. At left, two ladies catch some rays in the 1950s at the pool at Watoga State Park. File photo and photo courtesy of Preserving Pocahontas[\/caption]\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nThe Old Farmer's Almanac tells us that Dog Days are the 40 days beginning on July 3 and ending on August 11.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe term "Dog Days" comes to us from the Greeks and the ancient Romans.\r\n\r\nThe dog to which the term refers is Sirius \u2013 the "Dog Star."\r\n\r\nIn ancient times, during the several week period during the hottest part of the summer around the Aegean and Mediterranean, Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise.\r\n\r\nThis is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe precession of the equinoxes\u00a0is a process whereby\u00a0the\u00a0position\u00a0of the\u00a0stars and constellations gradually move in relation to the seasons.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSince ancient times, when Sirius was the first star to rise at dawn in the summer, the precession of the equinoxes has shifted the positions of\u00a0the\u00a0twelve main constellations, which used to generally align with the\u00a0twelve astrology signs for which they are named.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe ancients sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of punishing, hot weather.\r\n\r\nThese days, we make an offering to the sun of our white "farmer tan" arms and legs \u2013 slathered in sunscreen \u2013 and hope we don't get a third degree burn.\r\n\r\nAs we have survived another season of "Dog Days," I presume we have all been availing ourselves of every opportunity to immerse ourselves in cool water on hot days.\r\n\r\nYes, this time of year, swimming comes to mind, just as it must have throughout the ages.\r\n\r\n<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2018\/08\/php000369_b1ab71ea3e.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="409" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-21833" \/>\r\n\r\nMy guess is that as soon as there was water and there were humans, there was swimming.\r\n\r\nA hunch which cave drawings confirm.\r\n\r\nPerhaps the earliest pictures we have of swimming can be found in Stone Age drawings from 10,000 years ago.\r\n\r\nPictures of swimmers were found on the walls of a now-famous cave known as "The Cave of Swimmers" near Wadi Sura in southwestern Egypt.\r\n\r\nThey depict swimmers frolicking in the water.\r\n\r\nWritten references to swimming date from 2000 B.C., having been included in Gilgamesh, the Iliad and the Odyssey.\r\n\r\nThe Bible\u00a0refers to swimming in Ezekiel 47:5, Acts 27:42 and Isaiah 25:11.\r\n\r\nIn the Book of Isaiah, speaking of the downfall of Moab, it says:\r\n\r\n\u201cAnd he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe account of St. Paul\u2019s shipwreck near Malta describes men swimming ashore while others cling to planks from the ship and other debris in the hope of saving themselves.\r\n\r\nIt is featured prominently in Beowulf, and other classic literature.\r\n\r\nFor some reason, the Greeks did not include swimming in the ancient Olympic Games, but they certainly practiced the sport, often building swimming pools as part of their baths.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA common insult in Greece was to say someone could neither run nor swim.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe Etruscans at Tarquinia (in Italy) made beautiful pictures of swimmers in 600 B.C., and tombs in Greece depict swimming scenes drawn in 500 B.C.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA famous tale about the Greek hero Scyllis tells that when he was taken prisoner on a ship belonging to the fleet of Persian King Xerxes I in 480 B.C., swimming saved the day for the Greeks.\r\n\r\nAs their prisoner, Scyllis heard the Persians talking about having the Greek navy tied up in the harbor.\r\n\r\nHe stole a knife and jumped overboard.\u00a0\r\n\r\nDuring the night he swam back to the Greek flotilla.\r\n\r\nHe cleverly used a snorkel he'd fashioned from a reed, to swim among his countrymen's captive ships and cut them loose.\u00a0\r\n\r\nLater, their ability to swim again saved the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis, even as the Persians all drowned when their ships were destroyed.\u00a0\r\n\r\nRomans were also well-schooled in swimming\u00a0for recreation and for use in war.\u00a0\r\n\r\nJulius Caesar was known to be an excellent swimmer.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSwimming was often mentioned in Roman literature. It was thought of as an essentially Roman sport and battle tactic.\r\n\r\nIts history was traced back to the legendary Roman hero Horatius Cocles, who swam the Tiber River to defend a bridge against the Etruscans.\r\n\r\nA series of Roman reliefs dating from 850 B.C. show swimmers, mostly in a military context, some using swimming aids, possibly to indicate long-distance swim training.\r\n\r\nGermanic folklore describes swimming as a stealth tactic used successfully in war against the Romans.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSwimming was originally one of the seven "agilities" of knights during the Middle Ages.\r\n\r\nAnd the knights were expected to be able to swim while wearing armor.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHowever, as swimming was usually done without armor, or even much clothing, it was seriously being discouraged by the church by the end of the Middle Ages.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn the 16th century, a German court prohibited naked public swimming by children.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBut, of course, swimming could never be eradicated.\r\n\r\nLeonardo da Vinci made early sketches of lifebelts and men wearing lifebelts.\r\n\r\nIn 1538 Nicolas Wynman, a German professor of languages, wrote the first book about swimming, called, "Colymbetes." \u00a0His primary aim was not to encourage exercise or recreation, but to reduce the likelihood of drowning.\r\n\r\nNevertheless, the book contained sound instructions as to how to learn to swim.\r\n\r\nIt also explained how to use swimming aids like air-filled cow bladders, reed bundles or cork belts.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAround the same time as the Germans were learning the breast stroke from Wynman's book, an English author named\u00a0Everard Digby wrote a book called\u00a0De Arte Natandi.\r\n\r\nIt was published in 1587, and is considered the first English treatise on the sport although some of Digby's theories were somewhat\u00a0fantastical. He claimed that, properly trained, humans had the ability to swim better than fish.\r\n\r\nShakespeare wrote about swimming in several of his plays.\r\n\r\nWhen Stephano, in\u00a0The Tempest, asks Trinculo how he escaped the sinking ship, Trinculo says, \u201cSwum ashore, man, like a duck; I can swim like a duck, I\u2019ll be sworn.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn 1696, the French author, Thevenot, wrote The Art of Swimming, featuring\u00a0a breaststroke very similar to the modern breaststroke.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThis book was translated into English and became the go-to text on swimming for years to come.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn the British classic,\u00a0Gulliver\u2019s Travels, published\u00a0in 1726 by Irish writer and clergyman, Jonathan Swift, the hero considers himself a good swimmer and recites several occasions when he found it "convenient" to swim.\r\n\r\nFrancis Place\u2019s autobiography says that during English summers, boys often swam in the River Thames.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHe remembered that when he was about eleven, \u201cI saw boys not older than myself swim across the Thames at Millbank at about half tide.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nBy the early 1700s, recreational swimming was popular enough that London had its own public pool.\r\n\r\nThe Peerless Pool was described as "an elegant pleasure bath." It measured 170' by 100' and had a smooth gravel bottom, and was accessed by several flights of stairs.\r\n\r\nSwimming in the colonies was often out of necessity rather than pleasure.\u00a0\r\n\r\nNicholas Cresswell, for example, said that during a trip on the Ohio River in 1775, one of the canoes drifted across the river and \u201cone of the Company swam across the River and brought her over.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe year before, when he was in Barbados, Cresswell wrote, \u201cEarly this morning Bathed in the Sea, which is very refreshing in this hot Climate.\u201d\r\n\r\nBenjamin Franklin must have been particularly keen about swimming at a young age.\r\n\r\nAt the age of 10, in 1716, he invented of a pair of swim fins.\r\n\r\nFranklin believed strongly that every youth should learn to swim.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn an undated letter written before 1769, Franklin said this about swimming:\r\n\r\n\u201c... they would on many occurrences, be the safer for having that skill, and on many more the happier, as freer from painful apprehensions of danger, to say nothing of the enjoyment in so delightful and wholesome an exercise. Soldiers particularly should, methinks, all be taught to swim; it might be of frequent use either in surprising an enemy, or saving themselves. And if I had now boys to educate, I should prefer those schools (other things being equal) where an opportunity was afforded for acquiring so advantageous an art, which once learnt is never forgotten.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe number of coroner\u2019s inquests conducted in colonial Virginia on the bodies of boys and young men who drowned while swimming suggests that more swimming education was definitely needed.\r\n\r\nIn 1875, Matthew Webb caught the interest of people around the world when he became the first person to swim across the English Channel.\u00a0\r\n\r\nUsing only the breaststroke, it took him more than 21 hours to cross the Channel.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt would be 31 years before anyone else attempted that swim.\r\n\r\nToday, swimming is the third most popular sport in the summer Olympic Games.\r\n\r\nWhether in a swimmin' hole on Knapps Creek or in the solar heated pool at Watoga, Pocahontas Countians know that swimming is one of the best ways to beat heat of the last "Dog Days" of summer.\r\n\r\nEnjoy them while you can \u2013 we'll soon be exchanging dog days for dog sleds.