Thursday, April 2, 2009

Open Water Swimming Demographics Around the World

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

We were asked about the demographics of open water swimming. It was our uneducated guess that the demographics of open water swimming is similar to the demographics of mobile phone users, but the question got the best of our curiosity.

We looked at the five races around the world: (1) the 2009 2.8 km Harbour Crossing race in Auckland organized by Scott Rice of the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series, (2) the 38th annual 2.4-mile 2008 Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Honolulu, Hawaii, (3) the 2008 RCP Tiburon Mile held in San Francisco, California and organized by Bob Placak, (4) the 1.8 km Sandycove Island Challenge in Sandycove, Kinsale, Co Cork, Ireland, and (5) the 2008 2K Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim in Lee, Ireland.

1,413 swimmers participated in the 2.8 km Harbour Crossing race. This is what we found:

The average age was 36.54 years old with a median age of 37.

35.3% of the swimmers were female and 65.7% were male.

The age groups consisted of the following percentages:

Women 0-14 years: 2.9% of the total
Women 15-19 years: 3.4%
Women 20-29 years: 6.7%
Women 30-39 years: 9.6%
Women 40-49 years: 8.1%
Women 50-59 years: 3.6%
Women 60-69 years: 0.5%
Women 70-99 years: 0.1%

Men 0-14 years: 2.5% of the total
Men 15-19 years: 3.9%
Men 20-29 years: 8.9%
Men 30-39 years: 18.0%
Men 40-49 years: 19.6%
Men 50-59 years: 8.5%
Men 60-69 years: 2.4%
Men 70-99 years: 0.5%

At the 2.4-mile 2008 Waikiki Roughwater Swim, we found similar data among the 638 swimmers:

35.5% of the swimmers were female and 65.5% were male.

The age groups consisted of the following percentages:

Women 0-14 years: 3.7% of the total
Women 15-18 years: 3.9%
Women 19-29 years: 5.6%
Women 30-39 years: 8.9%
Women 40-49 years: 6.5%
Women 50-59 years: 4.9%
Women 60-69 years: 1.5%
Women 70-99 years: 0.4%

Men 0-14 years: 3.5% of the total
Men 15-18 years: 3.2%
Men 19-29 years: 7.0%
Men 30-39 years: 13.4%
Men 40-49 years: 17.5%
Men 50-59 years: 14.3%
Men 60-69 years: 4.2%
Men 70-99 years: 1.0%

At the 2008 RCP Tiburon Mile, we found these statistics among the 742 swimmers:

The average age was 34.8 years old with a median age of 37.

41.7% of the swimmers were female and 58.3% were male.

The age groups consisted of the following percentages:



Women 0-14 years: 4.8% of the total
Women 15-19 years: 9.9%
Women 20-29 years: 4.3%
Women 30-39 years: 6.7%
Women 40-49 years: 9.3%
Women 50-59 years: 5.2%
Women 60-69 years: 1.2%
Women 70-99 years: 0.0%

Men 0-14 years: 3.2% of the total
Men 15-19 years: 6.8%
Men 20-29 years: 6.8%
Men 30-39 years: 11.8%
Men 40-49 years: 18.7%
Men 50-59 years: 7.4%
Men 60-69 years: 2.9%
Men 70-99 years: 0.4%

60.5% of the swimmers did not wear wetsuits and 39.5% of the swimmers did wear wetsuits. 63.1% of the men did not wear wetsuits and. 57.3% of the women did not wear wetsuits. 36.9% of the men wore wetsuits and 42.7% of the women wore wetsuits.

At the 2008 Sandycove Island Challenge, we found these statistics among the 259 entered swimmers:

39.3% of the swimmers were female and 60.7% were male.

49.4% of the swimmers did not wear wetsuits and 50.6% of the swimmers did wear wetsuits. 51.6% of the men did not wear wetsuits and 46.0% of the women did not wear wetsuits. 48.4% of the men wore wetsuits and 54.0% of the women wore wetsuits.

Of the swimmers who did not wear wetsuits, we found the following statistics:

Women 0-17 years: 0.3% of the total
Women 18-29 years: 2.3%
Women 30-39 years: 7.7%
Women 40-49 years: 2.7%
Women 50-59 years: 3.9%
Women 60-69 years: 1.9%
Women 70-99 years: 0.0%

Men 0-17 years: 0.7% of the total
Men 18-29 years: 6.6%
Men 30-39 years: 7.7%
Men 40-49 years: 8.4%
Men 50-59 years: 5.4%
Men 60-69 years: 1.9%
Men 70-99 years: 0.3%

Of the swimmers who did wear wetsuits, we found the following statistics:

Women 0-24 years: 1.5% of the total
Women 25-34 years: 8.4%
Women 35-44 years: 6.9%
Women 45-54 years: 4.2%

Men 0-24 years: 1.5% of the total
Men 25-34 years: 7.7%
Men 35-44 years: 13.5%
Men 45-54 years: 3.4%
Men 55-64 years: 3.0%

At the 2008 Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim, we found these statistics among the 277 entered swimmers:

28.5% of the swimmers were female and 71.5% were male.

71.8% of the swimmers did not wear wetsuits and 28.2% of the swimmers did wear wetsuits. 69.6% of the men did not wear wetsuits and 77.2% of the women did not wear wetsuits. 21.4% of the men wore wetsuits and 22.8% of the women wore wetsuits.

Of the swimmers who did not wear wetsuits, we found the following statistics:

Women 0-17 years: 1.0% of the total
Women 18-29 years: 5.5%
Women 30-39 years: 5.7%
Women 40-49 years: 4.3%
Women 50-59 years: 3.6%
Women 60-69 years: 2.1%
Women 70-99 years: 0.0%

Men 0-17 years: 2.1% of the total
Men 18-29 years: 1.8%
Men 30-39 years: 14.8%
Men 40-49 years: 12.2%
Men 50-59 years: 7.9%
Men 60-69 years: 3.6%
Men 70-99 years: 0.0%

Of the swimmers who did wear wetsuits, we found the following statistics:

Women 0-24 years: 1.0% of the total
Women 25-34 years: 2.1%
Women 35-44 years: 1.8%
Women 45-54 years: 1.4%

Men 0-24 years: 1.4% of the total
Men 25-34 years: 7.9%
Men 35-44 years: 6.5%
Men 45-54 years: 2.1%
Men 55-64 years: 3.6%

Photo of Britta Kamrau at the RCP Tiburon Mile by Elliott Karlan.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association