Encyclopedia of Sport: Every sport from around the world

Open Water (Marathon) Swimming

Open water swimming is a sport in which competitions are conducted outdoors in natural water bodies like lakes, rivers and oceans. Most open water swimming are long distance races that requires high levels of endurance. The sport is currently practiced in almost all countries around the world.

Open water swimming has been an officially recognized sport for several decades and is a part of the Olympic Games. Competitive races are conducted for various distances depending on the sanctioning body that conducts the race. In Olympics, the race is for a distance of 10km. In FINA World Championships races are conducted for 5km, 10km, and 25km distances.

The races are fairly straightforward. Athletes start together from a starting point and the swimmer to first reach the end is declared as the winner.

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Besides the use of common swimming equipment like goggles, swim caps, and swimsuits, one major aspect of open water swimming is the use of wetsuits. Its usage depends on the sanctioning body. Some allows the usage of wetsuits while others consider racing with wetsuits as a different division.

The sport has steadily grown in popularity and besides the Olympics, there are several countries in which open water swim festivals are conducted.


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