The first example is from the London News of 1921, where you can actually see the earlier versions of swim machines. As the title implies “learning to swim on land: Science replaces throwing-in” says it all. Here we see an entire swim team member each having their own swim machine to practice on before or after they go in the water.
Below is what the article reads: “Swimming” on straps attached to trestles: Viennese boys practicing the Breast-Stroke under an instructor before entering the water.
The rough-and-ready method of teaching a boy to swim by throwing him into deep water, adopted by Spartan fathers may be effective in some cases, but is apt to be intimidating. A more rational system is used at a swimming school in Vienna, as shown in our drawing, which is based on an illustrated article in the “Popular Science Monthly”
The boys learn first to “swim” on land. “They put on their bathing-suits and lie across straps that are attached to the sides of wooden frames. There are two straps on each frame, one supporting the abdomen and the other fitting under the arms. While in this position each boy is taught the breast-stroke and the proper foot action; He is kept at it until he unconsciously does it correctly.” The next stage is taken in the water, the pupil wearing a life -belt suspended by a rope from an overhead pulley, which keeps him on the surface. After practicing for some time in this way, he is then able to swim without the aid of a pulley. A boy who learns on this system will never have any fear of water.