Topend Sports Logo

Marathon Swimming at the Olympics

Swimming is one of the most popular sports on the Olympic Games program. Most Oylmpic swimming events are held indoors in a 50 meter pool, and over a maximum distance of 1500m. In 2008, a 10km Open Water Swimming event was added to the Olympic program. Open water swimming events, sometimes called marathon swimming, are conducted outdoors in natural water bodies like lakes, rivers and oceans, and held over a long-distance.

Although not over a long distance, the swimming events at the early Olympic Games were held in the open water too. The swimming events were held in the sea (1896), the River Seine (1900), and a little lake in St. Louis, USA (1904). Consequently, the athletes had to contend with ice-cold water and currents, as do the marathon swimmers of today.

The marathon swimming event at the Olympics is a 10km open-water swimming race for men and women. No preliminary heats are held, with only the single mass-start race being contested. This race is held using the freestyle swimming stroke, though a feeding stations the swimmers can change to a more appropriate stroke.


Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

 → How to Cite