I posted on early modern swimming a couple of days ago, and regretted that I had not been able to find an image from Everard Digby’s sixteenth-century treatise on swimming online. I made do with a description of his illustrations, since I did not dare to scan an image and post it on the web. But Peacay of BibliOdyssey read my post, engaged his special image-finding skills, and found an online image from Digby’s original Latin treatise, De Arte Natandi. It is on the website of St John’s College, Cambridge, and I reproduce it here.
It is the fourth image in Nicholas Orme’s edition of Christopher Middleton’s translation of the treatise (1595). The first images in the treatise are concerned with techniques of entering the water. It is of the utmost importance, Digby writes, that the swimmer be neither too hot or too cold before entering the water. A beginning swimmer should simply wade into the water, but “when he can perfectly swim and boldly turn himself every way in the water” the swimmer could leap into the water. There are several ways of leaping into the water. Digby first describes a technique in which the swimmer declines his head forwards and turns round over with his heels — a technique that seems to resemble our modern dive. In this illustration, however, he pictures another technique. We see the swimmer ready to dive gracefully into the river, and we see him in a later stadium when he has fallen “on his left or right side, after this fashion”:
Many thanks to Peacay!