Sunday, March 8, 2009

World's Top 100 Open Water Swims

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

After researching nearly 3,000 open water swims on six continents held in every conceivable body of water, we present our 2008 list of the World's Top 100 Open Water Swims.

We acknowledge the current list is subjective: events with long histories or large fields, races held in historical or beautiful locations, competitions with professional marathon swimmers and difficult solo challenges were given a priority.

1. Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival
• Location: Sun Moon Lake (Jih Yueh Tan in Taiwanese) in central Taiwan.
• Course: A mass participation cross-lake swim with up to 22,000 participants.
• Distance: 3.3 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: The world’s largest mass participation open water swimming event has different start groups for individuals of all ages and abilities.
• Additional Information: The attracts between 18,500 and 22,000 (maximum limit) swimmers to a beautifully tranquil lake at 760 meters (2,493 feet) in altitude, including an increasing number of foreign athletes.

2. Midmar Mile
• Location: Midmar Damin Kwazulu Natal in South Africa (one-hour drive from Durban).
• Course: Straight point-to-point swim across Midmar Dam.
• Distance: 1 mile.
• Date: Second Sunday weekend in February.
• Description: The world’s largest competitive open water swimming event also has an associated a series of qualification swims throughout South Africa.
• Additional Information: Attracts swimmers of all ages and abilities, ranging from Olympic medalists to swimmers between the ages of 5 and 83. The event has recently attracted more than 17,000 entrants, a huge increase from the inaugural event in 1974 when 153 swimmers raced across the dam for the first time. Due to the large number of entrants, the swimmers are separated into 8 different races; each race is divided into 5 batches separated by 3-minute intervals; each batch wears a different colored cap to distinguish their batch. A chip timing system was introduced in 2008 to record accurate times for each participant.

3. Vansbrosimningen
• Location: Vansbro in central Sweden
• Course: River swim under the six bridges of Vansbro.
• Distance: 1K, 1.5K, 3 kilometers
• Date: July.
• Description: Over 9,700 swimmers participate in the Vansbrosimningen, Europe's largest open water swim with a separate race for women (the 1K Tjeisimmet race for women only).
• Additional Information: Envisioned in 1950 with 10 swimmers in the first attempt, Vansbrosimningen became a national race in 1956 and has been growing ever since, especially when the "En Svensk Klassiker" was added in 1972. Over the past 53 years, one woman, Margareta Rylander, was the fastest overall finisher.

4. Sea of Galilee Swim
• Location: Sea of Galilee in Israel.
• Course: A challenging and extremely popular channel swim with over 750 support boats
• Distance: 4 kilometers.
• Date: October.
• Description: A mass participation event, the largest in the Middle East, that can get rough if winds come up.
• Additional Information: Attracts over 6,000 swimmers of all ages and abilities, an incredible 0.1% of the entire population in Israel. The swim was first held in 1944, two years before Israel was formed, and has continued nearly uninterrupted ever since.

5. Great North Swim
• Location: picturesque Lake Windermere, the largest lake in England, in the Lake District.
• Course: a 1-mile in-and-out-and-in course in a flat, scenic, but cold, lake.
• Distance: 1 mile
• Date: September.
• Description: A very competitive race with several Olympic swimmers as well as the largest mass participation open water swim in Great Britain. Separate start for elite swimmers. Race requires swimmers to exit the water at the halfway mark for a run over timing mats in order to entertain the television audience.
• Additional Information: A 2-day open water swimming extravaganza that will draw up to 5,000 in its second year. Wetsuits are acceptable.

6. Bosphorus International Swim
• Location: Istanbul Strait that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara in Turkey.
• Course: From Meis to Kas in a narrow channel.
• Distance: 7.1 kilometers
• Date: July.
• Description: Organized by the National Olympic Committee of Turkey and started in 1989 with 68 swimmers, the Bosphorus has recently grown to 4,892 swimmers from dozens of countries.
• Additional Information: Bosphorus is the world’s most narrow strait used for international navigation and enables participants to claim they swam between Asia and Europe.

7. Lorne Pier-to-Pub Swim
• Location: Lorne, Australia.
• Course: Fast pier-to-beach swim.
• Distance: 1.2 kilometers.
• Date: January.
• Description: Mixed field of swimmers with an average time of 22 minutes.
• Additional Information: Started as a challenge between lifeguards in 1981 when 100 people entered the first race. The race is now capped at 4,300 participants and is known as a very successful charity event.

8. Rottnest Channel Swim
• Location: From Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island, near Perth, in Western Australia.
• Course: A challenging and extremely popular channel swim with over 750 support boats.
• Distance: 19.2 kilometers.
• Date: February.
• Description: Strong currents, abundant marine life, water temperature averages 21-22°C (69.8-71.6°F)
• Additional Information: Attracts swimmers between the ages of 14 to 72. The Rottnest Channel Swim informally began in 1987 when four men in their forties, sustained by water and bread, swam the channel. The following year, 12 people made the swim. By 2006, an online entry process was introduced where the number of entries for 2- and 4-person teams and solo swimmers was open for 7 days, attracting 3,910 entries. An electronic random ballot was then conducted to determine which 2,300 swimmers would participate. Solo swimmers receive an automatic entry; solo entries close on November 30th. Entries open the first working day in November and are only open for 7 days.

9. Cole Classic
• Location: Manly Beach in Australia.
• Course: Ocean course.
• Distance: 1-kilometer Novice Challenge and 2 kilometers.
• Date: January.
• Description: Started in 1983 with 101 swimmers with the Waikiki Roughwater Swim as an initial inspiration, the Cole Classic has grown to nearly 3,000 swimmers.
• Additional Information: Also an online fundraising opportunity through EveryDay Hero.

10. La Jolla Rough Water Swim
• Location: La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California, U.S.A., just north of San Diego.
• Course: Beach start and finish in and around the cold-water La Jolla Cove, which is a natural amphitheater for ocean swims.
• Distance: 250 yards, 1 mile and the 3-mile Gatorman Swim.
• Date: September.
• Description: Multi-distance event where many of the most accomplished open water swimmers from across the western American states compete. Marine life and kelp are abundant. Water clarity is among the best along the West Coast. Water temperature can be in the low 60°F’s.
• Additional Information: Started in 1916, it is billed as America’s Premier Rough Water Swim and nicknamed The Big Wet One. The race began in 1916 when 7 men swam 1.7 miles in the beautiful La Jolla Cove. By 1925, 8 men and 11 women swam the race. By 1950, 105 swimmers entered. In 1984, over 1,000 swimmers entered. In 2008, 2,297 swimmers participated, but since 1999, a limit was placed on the number of swimmers in order to maintain the high standards of the organizing committee.

11. Descenso a Nado de la Ria de Navia (Navia’s Downstream Swim)
• Location: River Navia in Spain.
• Course: Swim downstream in a picturesque river.
• Distance: 1.1 kilometers (under 12 years old), 1.7 kilometers (13-15 years old), 3 kilometers (women) and 5 kilometers (men)
• Date: August.
• Description: Started in 1958 when 14 swimmers swam 1 kilometer in a coastal village in Asturias, Galicia in northern Spain.
• Additional Information: Also serves as an official leg of the LEN Open Water Swimming Cup that attracts the top swimmers throughout Europe.

12. Xstrata Nickel Swim Thru Perth
• Location: Perth, Australia.
• Course: Picturesque Swam River, finishing in Matilda Bay.
• Distance: 2.2 kilometers and 4K kilometers.
• Date: January.
• Description: A great community event that attracts a wide mix of swimmers of all abilities and ages ranging from 10 to 83 years old.
• Additional Information: Oldest open water swimming race in Australia with over a 90-year history that serves as a fund-raiser to the Paraplegic-Quadriplegic Association of Western Australia.

13. Bonaire EcoSwim
• Location: Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire in the Netherland Antilles, 50 miles north of Venezuela, 30 miles from Curacao and 86 miles east of Aruba, outside of the hurricane belt.
• Course: start and finish at Captain Don's Habitat dock, along the coast of Bonaire. Water stops are available for the 5 kilometer and 10 kilometer races.
• Distance: Kid’s pier-to-pier swim, 1 kilometer (with and without fins), 2 kilometers x 2-person relay, 3 kilometers (with and without fins), 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers swims.
• Date: December.
• Description: Swim over pristine coral reefs amid beautiful marine life in crystal-clear warm waters.
• Additional Information: Scuba Diving Magazine (January 2008 issue) rated Bonaire #1 as the world’s Top Dive Destination and Top Marine Life.

14. Manhattan Island Marathon Swim
• Location: New York City, U.S.A.
• Course: Complete counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan Island, starting and finishing near Wall Street in view of the Statue of Liberty.
• Distance: 28.5 miles.
• Date: June or July
• Description: Field is limited to 25 solo swimmers and 18 relay teams that start and finish at Battery Park City. Fields sells out in less than 45 minutes. Race first held in 1927. Substantial surface chop and strong tidal pull are possible. Water temperature varies between (17-19°C (64-67°F). Course may also include random jetsam and flotsam. A Qualifying Swim must be completed.
• Additional Information: This is the premier event of the Manhattan Island Foundation that also conducts 8 other open water events and has attracted nearly 10,000 participants in more than 110 events, including the 1.3-mile Great Hudson River Swim in May, the new 1.2-mile Liberty Island Swim in June, the 2-mile Park to Park Swim in June, the 2-mile Governors Island Swim in September, the 1.5-kilometer Riverside Park Tune Up Swim in July, the 1-kilometer Brooklyn Bridge Swim in September that always sells out, 5.85-mile Little Red Lighthouse Swim in September, and the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim in October that always sells out, the Manhattan 10K Pro Challenge in September, and the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup in September that offers prize money as part of the global FINA World Cup circuit.

15. Bermuda Round the Sound Swim
• Location: Harrington Sound in Bermuda, 650 miles east of North Carolina.
• Course: Finish at Palmetto Gardens in Palmetto Bay.
• Distance: 0.8 kilometers, 2 kilometers, 4 kilometers, 7.5 kilometers and 10 kilometers races.
• Date: October.
• Description: Swim over pristine coral reefs amid beautiful marine life in crystal-clear warm waters.
• Additional Information: Nearly 200 swimmers from 19 U.S. states and several countries swim along astoundingly beautiful coastline. Flights are less than 2 hours from New York. Event includes fun pre-race swims.

16. Great Channel Swim
• Location: channel between England and France with the narrowest point being in the Strait of Dover between Dover, England and Calais, France.
• Course: a relatively narrow international channel with strong, but manageable, currents.
• Distance: 34 kilometers (21 miles).
• Date: Window of opportunity begins August 19th with 14 of the world’s best marathon swimmers (8 men + 6 women) and charity relays.
• Description: A competitive race with £10,000 to the winner. Similar to the famous professional English Channel races of the 1950’s with modern technologies (e.g., GPS, mobile telephones, AIS transmitters).
• Additional Information: Considered to be one of the world’s most iconic venues for endurance sports. NOTE: Canceled for 2009.

17. English Channel
• Location: channel between England and France with the narrowest point being in the Strait of Dover between Dover, England and Calais, France.
• Course: a relatively narrow international channel with strong, but manageable, currents.
• Distance: 34 kilometers (21 miles).
• Date: Solo and relay swims generally attempted between June and October.
• Description: the world’s most famous channel crossing for swimmers with nearly 1,000 successful swimmers to date.
• Additional Information: Considered to be the standard for channel crossing with the rules and traditions with significantly influence in the global open water swimming community. Most famous channel swim crossing in the world with two recognized governing bodies, Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation and the Channel Swimming Association.

18. Tsugaru Channel
• Location: Deep-water channel between Honshu, the main island of Japan where Tokyo is located, and Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.
• Course: A narrow international channel that connects the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean.
• Distance: 19.5 kilometers between Tappi Misaki in Honshu and Shirakami Misaki in Hokkaido.
• Date: Solo and relay swims generally attempted during July or August.
• Description: Swimmers are carried long distances due to the extraordinarily strong currents flowing from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean. Swimmers face large blooms of squid during the night.
• Additional Information: Deep-water channel with patches of cold water where many oil tankers from the Middle East travel through to the West Coast of the U.S. The Seikan Tunnel was built below the channel where bullet trains from Tokyo travel to Hokkaido. First crossed in 1990.

19. Beach-to-Beach Power Swim
• Location: Maho/Cinnamon/Trunk/Hawksnest on St. John in U.S. Virgin Islands.
• Course: 3 separate courses starting from the same beach.1-mile swim to Cinnamon Bay, 2.25-mile swim to Trunk Bay or 3.5-mile swim to Hawksnest Bay.
• Distance: 1 mile, 2¼ miles and 3½ mile.
• Date: May.
• Description: Swimmers compete as an individual or as part of a 3-person team.Some swimmers also compete in the "assisted" category using snorkel and/or fins.
• Additional Information: Swimmers compete as an individual or as part of a 3-person team. Additional Information: About 165 swimmers are hosted by the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park in a growing tradition on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

20. St. Croix Coral Reef Swim
• Location: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
• Course: From Buck Island, an underwater coral reef park, to The Buccaneer, a luxury destination resort on St. Croix’s east end.
• Distance: 2-mile and 5-mile swims.
• Date: October.
• Description: Spectacular blue water is home to the largest island barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, endangered fish species, starfish and many green and hawksbill sea turtles.
• Additional Information: Described by many participants as a fantastic swim with the most pristine water they have ever seen. Proceeds are donated to The Nature Conservancy.

21. Maratona Aquática Internacional de Santos (International Aquatic Marathon of Saints)
• Location: Santos, Brazil.
• Course: Ocean course with occasionally rough water off Boqueiro Beach of Santos.
• Distance: 1 kilometer, 2 kilometers, 4 kilometers and 10 kilometers.
• Date: January.
• Description: Very competitive professional marathon swim that attracts top swimmers from around the world to the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup race which is preceded by very large 1-kilometer, 2-kilometer and 4-kilometer races.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit. 84 swimmers from 15 countries took part in 2008.

22. FINA 10KM Open Water Swimming World Cup in Cancun
• Location: Cancun Bay, Mexico.
• Course: Tropical ocean course with occasionally rough water.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: September.
• Description: Start near the Oasis Viva Beach Cancun with four 2.5-kilometer loops. A very competitive marathon swim that attracts top swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA pro tour. Only swimmers from recognized National Federations affiliated with FINA are eligible to participate. Entry forms must be signed by appropriate National Federation executive.

23. Round Christiansborg Swim
• Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
• Course: Five 2-kilometer loops in Fredericksholm’s Canal around the island that houses the palace of the Danish Parliament.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: Popular Danish swim for amateurs and a new FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup event with US$11,000 in prize money.
• Additional Information: Swimmers will swim through canals alongside Holmen Church, the Danish Parliament, the Danish Ministry of Culture, royal riding stables and near the central shopping area of Copenhagen. Amateurs swim in the morning and the pro swimmers start the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup race in the afternoon. Water temperature is between 64-72°F (18-22°C).

24. Maratón Acuático Rio Coronda
• Location: Santa Fe, Argentina.
• Course: Swim down the River Coronda with many currents and eddies.
• Distance: 57 kilometers.
• Date: February.
• Description: A very competitive and tactical race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$11,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

25. Maratón Acuático Internacional Ciudad de Rosario
• Location: Rosario, Argentina.
• Course: Six 1.7-kilometer loops of a triangular course located in front of Rambla Catalunya Beach in Rosario after starting 2 kilometers downstream.
• Distance: 15 kilometers.
• Date: February
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$10,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

26. Maratón Patagones Viedma
• Location: Viedma, Argentina.
• Course: Swim in the Rio Negro.
• Distance: 15 kilometers.
• Date: February.
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$11,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

27. Sumidero Canyon Swimming Marathon
• Location: Within the Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas, Mexico.
• Course: A point-to-point course along a meandering warm-water (26°C or 78.8°F river within an incredibly scenic canyon, with towering cliff walls, in southern Mexico.
• Distance: 15 kilometers.
• Date: April.
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

28. Marathona del Golfo Capri-Napoli
• Location: Island of Capri to Napoli, Italy.
• Course: From Marina Grande Beach on the island of Capri to the seafront of via Caraccioli in Naples, Italy.
• Distance: 36 kilometers (22 miles).
• Date: July.
• Description: Warm-water (28°C or 82°F) ocean course with occasional large swells and heavy surface chop. A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit. One of the world’s most competitive professional marathon swims with a long, proud and colorful history since 1954.

29. Setúbal Bay International Swim Marathon
• Location: Setúbal Bay, Portugal.
• Course: Four loops of a 2.5-kilometer triangle course where warmth and sunshine are expected along the Portuguese coast in beautiful Setúbal Bay, located 40 kilometers south from Lisbon.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: June.
• Description: Setúbal bay is one of the most beautiful bays in the world with Serra da Arrábida on one side and Rio Sado magic waterfront on the other. The water temperature is between 18-19ºC with a water depth of between 3-25 meters.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup tour. A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.

30. Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon
• Location: Ohrid Lake, Macedonia.
• Course: Lake course that starts from the monastery St. Naum, goes along the lakeshore and finishes at the town harbor.
• Distance: 30 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world. Offers US$10,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.
• Additional Information: The first mass swimming competition in Lake Ohrid took place in 1924. The first marathon swim was held in 1954 along a 2.5-kilometer course "Gorica-Ohrid". The first ultra-marathon (36 kilometers) was held in 1962ide-appreciated marathons such as the Capri Marathon in Naples, Italy.

31. Jarak-Sabac Swim Marathon
• Location: In the Sava River near Sabac, Serbia.
• Course: A multi-race event starting from Gomolava on the Sava River.
• Distance: 2 kilometers, 4.5 kilometers and 18.7 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: A very competitive race with the world’s top professional marathon swimmers competing with amateurs competing in the shorter events. Even has nearly 40 years of history.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit as well as 50-meter races for young children.

32. Faros Marathon Swim
• Location: In Stari Grad Bay (Hvar Island) in Croatia.
• Course: Scenic venue and surrounding area.
• Distance: 16 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: Generous hospitality and enthusiastic support of swimmers from the local community.
• Additional Information: Serves as the Croatian International Long Distance Swimming Championships. Started in 1976 by Vicko Soljan, the race has been hosted to about 1,000 swimmers of its 32-year history.

33. Santa Barbara Channel 6x6 Relay Race
• Location: Channel between Santa Cruz Island and the City of Santa Barbara in California, U.S.A.
• Course: From Santa Cruz Island to East Beach on the California mainland.
• Distance: 42 kilometers (26 miles).
• Date: September.
• Description: Prize money offered. Race is limited to 6 boats with 6 swimmers per boat. Channel has mild currents with the average water temperature is 15-21°C (60-70°F). The 6x6 Relay Race is a fund raiser for ocean-caring non-profit organizations.
• Additional Information: Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association also offers four different length of crossings: 12, 20, 26 and 30 miles. The Association also conducts the 26-mile Big Swim and 3-mile and 10-mile coastal races in Santa Barbara and open water swimming trips to Baja Mexico, Chile and Guatemala via the Ocean Ducks Swimming Adventures.

34. Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean
• Location: Lac St-Jean, Roberval, Quebec, Canada.
• Course: A crossing of a cold-water lake from Peribonka to Roberval, Quebec.
• Distance: 10 kilometers and 32 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: The 32-kilometer race is one of the world’s most prestigious professional races with a long and rich history. The swimmers are cheered on by more than 100,000 people who visit the area during La semaine de la Traversée Festival with thousands of fans at the finish to cheer on the swimmers. Water temperature and winds can very, but water temperature under 20°C (68°F) is expected. Offers US$40,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit that always attracts the world’s best professional marathon swimmers.The 10-kilometer race is one of the FINA 10KM Open Water Swimming World Cup races on the global circuit. Elite professional marathon swimmers also compete in this race that includes eight 1.25-kilometer loops in Lac St Jean for US$20,000 in prize money.
• Additional Information: The Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean has been held continuously for 54 years since 1955. The race organizers offer 5 open water events in addition to the professional 10-kilometer and 32-kilometer races: a 10-kilometer youth marathon swim, a solo 32-kilometer Traversée (a personal challenge for the non-professional swimmer) and 1-kilometer, 2-kilometer and 5 -kilometer swims.

35. Traversée Internationale du lac Memphrémagog
• Location: Lac Memphrémagag, Quebec, Canada.
• Course: A long-loop course starting and finishing in Magog, Quebec, Canada in the narrow Lac Memphrémagag.
• Distance: 34 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: Water temperature and winds can vary widely, especially with strong winds, but 20°C (68°F) is average. A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$25,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

36. FINA 10KM Open Water Swimming World Cup in Bulgaria
• Location: Varna, Bulgaria.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

37. FINA 10KM Open Water Swimming World Cup in China
• Location: Shantou, China.
• Course: Loop course in the Xinjin River with water temperature around 23°C (73°F).
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: September.
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

38. FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup in Hong Kong
• Location: Repulse Bay, Hong Kong.
• Course: 3 loops in a generally calm bay with mild currents and expected water temperature between 25-27°C (77-81°F).
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: October.
• Description: A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit.

39. FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup in Sharjah
• Location: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: October.
• Description: Minimal currents and generally flat water. A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit.

40. FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup in Dubai
• Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
• Course: Two 5-kilometer loops in a river course inside an urban park.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: October.
• Description: Minimal currents and generally flat water. A very competitive race with elite professional marathon swimmers from around the world.
• Additional Information: Offers US$20,000 in prize money as part of the global FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit.

41. Clean Half Marathon Swimming Open Water Relay
• Location: Hong Kong Bay, Hong Kong.
• Course: From Stanley to Deepwater Bay around the beautiful waters of Hong Kong’s south side.
• Distance: 14.5 kilometers (9 miles).
• Date: October.
• Description: Solo and 5-person relay race in blue, clean 22-27°C (71-81°F waters in the back half of Hong Kong Island. Swells can get large with heavy surface chop depending on the wind.
• Additional Information: Large swells and heavy surface chop can be experienced at times, especially from backwash from rock cliffs. The world’s first and only “carbon-neutral” option is available where the swimmers can choose to compete with an outrigger canoe instead of a traditional motorized escort boat. Relay swimmers rotate every 20 minutes.

42. Sheko Challenge
• Location: Hong Kong Bay, Hong Kong.
• Course: Point-to-point course from Shek-O Big Wave Bay to Back Beach (Rocky Bay).
• Distance: 2.2 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: Festive ocean race for all ages and abilities.
• Additional Information: Relatively calm waters.

43. Fiji Swims
• Location: Treasure Island and Beachcomber Island, Fiji.
• Course: Held in a tropical island paradise, swimmers swim in crystal-clear waters over beautiful coral reefs and abundant marine life.
• Distance: 1-kilometer and 2.7-kilometer races and 18-kilometer solo or “free-style” relay swim.
• Date: Mid-August.
• Description: The 1-kilometer race is from a floating pontoon near Treasure Island to Beachcomber Island. The 2.7-kilometer swim is at Beachcomber Island and starts on a sandbar. The 18K relay is from Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa to Beachcomber Island. The 18-kilometer race can be done solo, with 2 swimmers or with 5 swimmers.
• Additional Information: Considered to be one of the most beautiful open water swims in the world with numerous world-renowned Olympic medalists annually participating, such as Natalie Coughlin, Shane Gould, Debbie Meyer (1968 triple gold medalist), Danyon Loader (double gold medalist from New Zealand) and Murray Rose.

44. Galata-Varna Swimming Marathon
• Location: Varna on the west coast of the Black Sea in Bulgaria.
• Course: Loop course with start and finish at Varna’s main beach.
• Distance: 4.4 kilometers and 10 kilometers
• Date: August.
• Description: Warm-water 23°C (74°F) course with the start and finish with occasional large swells and heavy surface chop.
• Additional Information: Considered to be the ‘Sea Capital of Bulgaria’ where the 4.4K event has been held for nearly 70 years. The 10K event is part of the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit where professional swimmers from around the world compete for US$20,000 in prize money.

45. Cook Strait
• Location: Channel between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
• Course: Large tidal flows, cold water temperatures (14º-19ºC or 57º-66ºF) and jellyfish present significant challenges.
• Distance: 26 kilometers (16 miles).
• Date: January through April.
• Description: Both sides of the strait have rock cliffs. To date, only 71 successful crossings have been made by 61 individuals from 8 countries. Hypothermia and change in weather conditions are the most common reasons attempts fail.
• Additional Information: 1 in 6 swimmers encounter sharks on their crossings, although no one has been attacked during a swim.

46. Maratón Internactional Hernandarias – Parana
• Location: From the city Hernandarias to Parana, Argentina.
• Course: Longest professional marathon swim under extremely competitive conditions down a river with varying currents and flotsam.
• Distance: 88 kilometers (54.6 miles).
• Date: July.
• Description: Warm-water (28°C or 82°F) ocean course with occasional large swells and heavy surface chop.
• Additional Information: Tens of thousands of spectators line the course in an extremely festive atmosphere. Offers US$25,000 in prize money when it is part of the global FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

47. Irish (North) Channel
• Location: Cold-water channel between Ireland and Scotland.
• Course: From Mull of Galloway to County Antrim or Co. Down.
• Distance: 33.7 kilometers (21 miles).
• Date: Window of opportunity is July through September.
• Description: Heavy seas, cold water, thunderstorms and strong currents must be overcome to be successful. Considered by many to be the most difficult channel swim in the world with the water temperature around 12-14°C (54ºF) on normally overcast days.
• Additional Information: To date, only 16 successful crossings have been made, including 13 solo swims by 9 swimmers and 5 relays. Most of the 70+ attempts have been abandoned due to difficult conditions and hypothermia. Swim crossings are governed by the rules set by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association. First attempt was made in 1928 and the first success was 1947. There is difficulty in predicting weather and water conditions; swimmers face large pods of jellyfish if conditions are calm.
• Additional Information: Swim crossings are governed by the rules set by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association.

48. Ijsselmeerzwemmarathon
• Location: From Stavoren to Medemblik in Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands.
• Course: Formerly the ocean, but now a large lake, Ijsselmeer that can develop very difficult conditions with the winds.
• Distance: 22 kilometers (13.6 miles)
• Date: Usually the second Saturday in August.
• Description: A competitive field.
• Additional Information: Now in its fourth decade, the event was recognized for merit by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007. Individual escort boats are required and some prize money is offered that has served as the Dutch Marathon Swimming National Championship.

49. Fiji Ocean Swim Festival
• Location: Plantation Island, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
• Course: 1.5-kilometer and 3-kilometer loop course off of Lomani and Plantation Beach. 10-kilometer course is around Plantation Island.
• Distance: 1.5 kilometers, 3 kilometers and 10 kilometers.
• Date: October.
• Description: The Mamanuca Group of islands provide ideal conditions for swimming with clear waters & beautiful reefs.
• Additional Information: Includes a 5-person relay over a 2-kilometer course. Attracts a growing number of swimmers from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea USA and Europe as well as swimmers from throughout the South Pacific.

50. Vanuatu Ocean Swim
• Location: Port Vila in Vanuatu.
• Course: Diamond shaped course from Port Vila's seafront around Iririki Island and back.
• Distance: 1.5 kilometers and 3.2 kilometers.
• Date: June.
• Description: Port Vila is one of the most beautiful harbors in the world and swimmers pass over reefs and deep channels in clear waters around Iririki Island. Attracts over 200 swimmers from Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Fiji. Features clinics with some of the world's top distance swimmers, artifact trophies for top 3 finishers in each age group.
• Additional Information: Pacific Swims also holds the Espiritu Santo Aore Swim on Luganville, Espiritu Santo right after the Vanuatu Ocean Swim. This 2.8-kilometer swim crosses the Segond Channel from Luganville to the Aore Resort. Espiritu Santo is Vanuatu's "Big Island" steeped in tradition and history. Luganville and the Segond Channel was an important US WWII base for the push on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and at the eastern end of the channel is the wreck of the President Coolidge now one of the world's most famous dive sites.

51. Molokai Channel
• Location: Channel between the islands of Molokai and Oahu in Hawaii.
• Course: Difficult deep-water channel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where heavy seas, tropical heat and extremely strong currents can push swimmers off-course by miles.
• Distance: 42 kilometers (26 miles).
• Description: Beautiful channel between two tropical islands with abundant marine life.
• Additional Information: Known as the Kaiwi Channel, it has only been successfully crossed by 13 individuals

52. New Zealand Ocean Swim Series
• Location: Throughout New Zealand, from Wellington to North Shore City.
• Course: In stunning beaches and major waterways.
• Distance: 0.7 kilometers and 2.8 kilometers
• Date: Harbour Crossing in Auckland is in November, Capital Classic in Oriental Bay is in January; Corsair Classic is in February, Mt Maunganui is in March, King of the Bays is in April
• Description: Five-part series includes Harbour Crossing, Capital Classic, Corsair Classic, Sand to Surf Mt. Maunganui and King of the Bays.
• Additional Information: Very well-marketed series has introduced and incorporated many event innovations including OceanKids and the Golden Goggles Club.

53. Strait of Gibraltar
• Location: Between Europe (Spain) and Africa (Morocco). Strait between Spain and Morocco that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
• Course: Shortest point is between Punta Oliveros in Spain and Punta Cires in Morocco.
• Distance: 14.4 kilometers (8 miles)
• Date: June to October.
• Description: Swimmers must cross an eastern flow of water from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea with an average of 3 knots (5.5 km per hour). Heavy boat traffic, logistical barriers and surface chop confront swimmers throughout each attempt.
• Additional Information: First successful crossing in 1928. Its boundaries were known in antiquity as the Pillars of Hercules. The currents remain at Herculean strength. Combined with the unpredictability of the water conditions and high winds, only 185 successful one-way crossings and 7 double-crossings have been made to date. Most attempts are made from Tarifa Island due to the influence of strong currents, a distance of 18.5 – 22 kilometers (10-12 miles).

54. Pennock Island Challenge
• Location: In Ketchikan, Alaska, U.S.A.
• Course: Around Pennock Island in the Tongass Narrows.
• Distance: 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles).
• Date: August.
• Description: The Pennock Island Challenge is a current-assisted course sheltered from large surf everywhere except the sound end. Water temperature ranges from mid-50s°F to low 60s°F (12.7 to 16.6°C). Air temperature will range from the mid-60s°F to mid 80s°F (18-29°C). Swimmers can enter as solo and as members of a relay. • Additional Information: Wetsuits are allowed, but will have their own awards category. Fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association.

55. Trinidad & Tobago Open Water Classic
• Location: Maracas Beach in Trinidad (northeast of Venezuela).
• Course: Out-and-back course in a stunningly beautiful stretch of beach in the southern Caribbean Sea.
• Distance: 5 kilometers.
• Date: September.
• Description: Formerly a 5-mile race, the Open Water Classic serves as the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad & Tobago national championships.
• Additional Information: Over a 50-year history, the Open Water Classic was once a 5-mile race, but is now a 5-kilometer race in order to confirm with international open water swimming standards.

56. Flowers Sea Swim
• Location: In the pristine waters of Seven-Mile Beach on the Grand Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea.
• Course: Point-to-point, in-the-water finish in relatively shallow, but incredibly clear waters.
• Distance: 1 mile.
• Date: June.
• Description: Described as the world’s flattest and fastest ocean mile.
• Additional Information: Over 600 swimmers participate in the race in addition to the 400+ individuals who participated in the Walk-and-Watch event along the tropical beach. Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association’s Open Water Sea Swim annual series also includes the Zulu 2–mile sea swim in October, Cable & Wireless 800-meter Swim in April, Cayman Brac 800-meter Swim in April, Butterfield Bank 800-meter in May, CUC 800-meter in October, the Pirate’s Week 5K in November and the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association 10K in November.

57. Sakurajima Kinko Bay Open Water Swimming Championship
• Location: In Kinko Bay in Kagoshima in southern Japan.
• Course: Point-to-point, cross-bay swim
• Distance: 4 kilometers.
• Date: July
• Description: Hundreds of teams take part.
• Additional Information: 23 years of constant growth in the number of teams and participants.

58. FINA London Marathon Swim
• Location: Albert Dock in London, Great Britain.
• Course: Generally flat four 2.5K loops.
• Distance: 10 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: A very competitive race that attracts many of the world’s best marathon swimmers.
• Additional Information: Part of the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit.

59. Sandycove Island Challenge Race
• Location: Sandycove Island in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.
• Course: Counterclockwise circumnavigation around the island.
• Distance: 2 kilometers (1.25 miles), depending on how close one swims to the island.
• Date: September.
• Description: The Old Head of Kinsale shelters Sandycove Island from the prevalent westerly winds. Swim at high tide for the easiest swim. Low tide exposes hidden reefs and a beach at the base of the slipway. Medium currents at mid-tide can present problems for slower swimmers.
• Additional Information: Training swims are made from late winter when water can be 45°F to late summer. Nearly 150 swims are scheduled each year at the primary training spot for open water swimmers and triathletes. Excellent training location for those preparing for an English Channel attempt. Clean crisp water with sunken reefs and waving sea plants clearly visible.

60. Yonaguni Island
• Location: Most southwestern island of Japan in Okinawa near Taiwan.
• Course: Demanding swim in the East China Sea around an isolated, incredibly beautiful tropical island known as one of the top three hammerhead shark breeding grounds of the world.
• Distance: 29 kilometers (18 miles).
• Date: Attempts can be made in spring or fall.
• Description: Population of island is under 1,700 people. Thousands of hammerhead sharks congregate near island within view of swimmers.
• Additional Information: Water temperature about 26.6°C (80°F) in spring and fall; much warmer in summer. First circumnavigation completed in 1993 in 7 hours and 8 minutes.

61. Island of Jersey
• Location: Island located in the English Channel approximately 14 miles (22K) from Normandy, France and approximately 100 miles (162K) south of Great Britain.
• Course: Scenic terrain ranging from long sandy bays to rugged cliffs.
• Distance: Approximately 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) of coastline.
• Date: July or August.
• Description: Jersey is the largest and southernmost of the Channel Islands. First circumnavigation swim successfully completed in 1969; fastest circumnavigation swim is held by Alison Streeter, the Queen of the Channel, in 9 hours and 53 minutes.
• Additional Information: Water temperature is 17.7ºC (64ºF) and the swim is tidal assisted if timed right.

62. Asian Beach Games
• Location: Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia.
• Course: Tough ocean loop course.
• Distance: 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers.
• Date: October.
• Description: Competitive races that includes many of the top marathon swimmers throughout Asia.
• Additional Information: Part of the Asian Beach Games that includes other sports such as beach soccer, beach sepak takraw, beach handball, bodybuilding, windsurfing, triathlon, dragon boat, sailing, paragliding, surfing, windsurfing, woodball and beach volleyball. Open water races are officiated by members of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.

63. Cadiz Freedom Swim
• Location: Robben Island to Big Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
• Course: Across the cold-water Robben Island Channel (13°C or 55°F).
• Distance: 7.5 kilometers.
• Date: April.
• Description: There are two categories: solo swimmers that compete under standard rules and relays of 2 or 4 swimmers (no wetsuits, wetsuits, corporate relay, schools relay).
• The Cape Long Distance Swimming Association offers information on swimming various distances between 7-35 kilometers between Cape Town and Robben Island, False Bay, Cape Point and other locations with water temperatures range between 13°C (55°F) and 19°C (66°F).
• Additional Information: Robben Island is located 12 kilometers offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. Robben Island was used as a cruel prison for nearly 400 years, including the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela from 1964-1982. Today, the island is a World Heritage site and offers one of the world’s great channel challenges. Since it was first crossed in 1899 by Henry Charteris Hooper, nearly 300 individuals have successfully swum between the mainland and Robben Island.

64. Peter Pan Cup Christmas Morning Handicap Swim
• Location: Hyde Park in the heart of London in England.
• Course: Short, but shockingly cold, swim (4°C or 40°F) on the south bank of the lake.
• Distance: 100 yards.
• Date: December 25.
• Description: Christmas tradition since 1864.
• Additional Information: Site of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim during the 2012 London Olympics. The Serpentine was man-made by joining a series of small ponds together back in 1730, under the direction of Queen Caroline. One of the first competitions in the Serpentine was in 1837 promoted by a London wine merchant by collecting an entrance fee from competitors. A gold medal and the title of 'Champion of the Serpentine River' was first awarded in a 1838 Grand Match. Twelve athletes, including the Champion of England and the Champion of London, competed in front of 20,000 spectators over a distance of 1000 yards in a Bridge-to-Bridge race.

65. Lange Afstandzwemwedstrijd Sluis
• Location: Canal Hoeke – Sluis with start and finish in Sluis in the Netherlands.
• Course: Back-and-forth swim in old shipping canal with the turn-around point in Brugge in Belgium.
• Distance: 2 kilometers, 5 kilometers and 2.5 kilometers (breaststroke)
• Date: Usually the first Sunday in July.
• Description: Turning point is in Belgium making it truly an international swim.
• Additional Information: The event continues to be popular in its fourth decade.

66. Traversata dello Stretto
• Location: Strait of Messina in Sicily, Italy.
• Course: Various courses in the Strait of Messina which is a narrow channel between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria on the Italian mainland.
• Distance: Between 1.8 kilometers and 5.2 kilometers
• Date: August and September.
• Description: The first race is the 5.2-kilometer 45th annual Traversata dello Stretto. First crossed in 1930, the Strait has strong currents and natural whirlpools that make for a challenging and enjoyable event to do and watch, especially on a clear day. The Traversata dello Stretto starts at Torre Faro, crosses the Strait of Messina to a turn in Cannitello in Calabria on the Italian mainland, then traverses along the Italian coast and finished in Villa San Giovanni. The second race is the Trofeo Baia di Grotta. The third race is the 1.8-kilometer II Trofeo Onda Azzurra along the Calabria coast. The fourth race is 36th annual 3.7-kilometer Favazzina-Scilla swim in late August. The fifth race is the 5.1-kilometer XI Memoria Nino Sofi. The sixth race is the 3-kilometer Città di Reggio Calabria II in September.
• Additional Information: In an earlier poll, the establishment of the Traversata dello Stretto race in September 1954, inspired by Giuseppe Dominici's 1930 crossing, was chosen as the Top Open Water Moment in History as it is typical of many local coastal swims in the Mediterranean.

67. Lektocht
• Location: River Lek (local name of the Rhine) in the Netherlands.
• Course: Start at Beusichem and finish in Culemborg in a river, usually current-assisted.
• Distance: 2 kilometers, 6 kilometers and 2.5 kilometers (breaststroke).
• Date: The second Sunday in July.
• Description: Winding course with bends in the river.
• Additional Information: Offers good prize money that attracts top Dutch swimmers and top competitive swimmers from other countries. Swim has a long history, but it was canceled in the 1960’s due to pollution in the river Rhine and restarted in the 1990’s.

68. Lange Afstand NW Overijssel
• Location: Steenwijkerdiep at Steenwijkerwold in the Netherlands.
• Course: Back-and-forth in a freshwater canal on boundary of National Park De Weerribben.
• Distance: 1 kilometers, 2.5 kilometers, 5 kilometers and 2 kilometers (breaststroke)
• Date: Usually last Saturday in June.
• Description: Often the venue for the Dutch Open Water Swimming Championships.
• Additional Information: Popular, safe swim that has been continuing for over 30 years.

69. Ter rede van Hoorn
• Location: Freshwater lake Ijsselmeer at Hoorn in the Netherlands.
• Course: On the west side of lake Ijsselmeer.
• Distance: 1 kilometers, 2 kilometers, 5 kilometers,10 kilometers, 1 kilometers (breaststroke), 2 kilometers (breaststroke).
• Date: First weekend in August.
• Description: 2-day event.
• Additional Information: Occasionally rough water conditions.

70. Zeezwemtocht Harlingen
• Location: Wadden Sea at Harlingen in the Netherlands.
• Course: In the tidal Waddenzee.
• Distance: 2 kilometers.
• Date: Late August or early September, depending on the tides.
• Description: Salt-water swim from inside the small sea harbor, around the pier, and back to the beach for a shore finish.
• Additional Information: Now in its fourth decade, this is a national federation-sanctioned swim that allows walking during the race.

71. Gozo-Malta Open Water Channel Race
• Location: From Ras il-Qala to Marfa in Malta.
• Course: In the Mediterranean Sea.
• Distance: 5.5 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: All swimmers are accompanied by escort boats in the charity swim with ir-Razzett tal-Ħbiberija.
• Additional Information: Malta is a small nation of seven islands off the coast of Sicily in Italy and is site of a six-part open water swimming series organized by the Birkirkara St Joseph Sports Club. The series includes the 2-kilometer Bugibba Open Sea Swim in June, the 2-kilometer Sliema Open Sea Swim in June, the 2-kilometer Bugibba Open Sea Swim in July, the 2-kilometer Marsascala Open Sea Swim in July, the 4-kilometer St. Julian’s Open Sea Swim in August and the 2-kilometer Birzebbuga Open Sea Swim in September, all starting in the evening.

72. Maratona Aquática
• Location: Wet'n Wild Park near São Paulo in Brazil.
• Course: Lake in the Wet’n Wild water park.
• Distance: 1 kilometer, 2 kilometers and 4 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: Serves as the Maratona Aquática Championships
• Additional Information: Nearly 2,000 swimmers, ages 6-80, take part annually.

73. The Bay Challenge
• Location: Sandy Cove (West Vancouver) to Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, Canada.
• Course: Solo and relay races.
• Distance: 0.75 kilometers, 1.5 kilometers, 3 kilometers and 6 kilometers (solo + relay).
• Date: July.
• Description: Wetsuits are mandatory and neoprene swim caps are strongly recommended.
• Additional Information: 78-year history of cold-water swimming. Ocean temperatures may range between 13°C (50°F) in the shipping lane to 18-20°C (62-66°F) at Kitsilano Beach.

74. International Swimming Marathon of Toroneos Gulf
• Location: From Kallithea Beach to Nikiti in Greece.
• Course: Sea course.
• Distance: 26 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: Water temperature in the deep-blue sea averages 24°-27C (75°-80.6°F)
• Additional Information: Inspired by a group of Nikita youngsters who dared to swim an unprecedented 25 kilometers tom Nikiti, Sithonia to Kallithea, Kassandra in 1971, the local community generously provides warm hospitality for the international field of 30 swimmers. Each swimmer is considered a winner and receives a cup and wreath crown made of olive tree leaves as was done in ancient Greece.

75. Lake Trichonida Crossing
• Location: Raches in central Greece.
• Course: Lake race.
• Distance: 3 kilometers and 16 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: 3-kilometer race is for handicapped individuals in conducted in addition to the invitational 16-kilometer marathon swim.

76. International Winter Swimming Marathon
• Location: Palirria, Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
• Course: Held on the Nei Epivates-Palirria Beach in winter.
• Distance: 1 kilometer.
• Date: January.
• Description: Cold-water sea with water temperature under 10°C (50°F)
• Additional Information: Swimmers must provide a medical certificate to participate due to the cold.

77. International Swimming Marathon of Messiniakos Gulf
• Location: South Peloponnesus in Greece.
• Course: Invitational rossing of the Messiniakos Gulf from Koronis to Kalamata.
• Distance: 30 kilometers.
• Date: September.
• Description: Cold-water sea with water temperature under 10°C (xx°F)
• Additional Information: Interested athletes must provide a CV via email to

78. Russian Swimming Federation National Championship
• Location: Anapa, Russia
• Course: Along the Black Sea coast.
• Distance: 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers and 16 kilometers.
• Date: Usually late June or early July.
• Description: Very competitive race limited to national-level swimmers. The Russian National Open Water Team has been the most dominant group of swimmers at the world-class level for nearly 10 years, so this race is extremely competitive and limited to national-level Russian swimmers.

79. Amber Mile Race
• Location: Yantarnoe Lake (Amber Lake) in Yantarnyy near the Baltic Sea in Kaliningrad, Russia
• Course: In a freshwater lake very near the Baltic Sea on a resort coast in a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania.
• Distance: 1 nautical mile.
• Date: July.
• Description: Established by the Russian Federation of Masters Swimming, the water is above 20°C (68°F).
• Additional Information: Called the Amber Mile Race because 80% of the world’s amber is produced in Kaliningrad.

80. 2XU Ocean Swim Series
• Location: Five-race series and community swims throughout Tasmania in Australia.
• Course: Various ocean courses.
• Distance: 1.2 kilometers to 5 kilometers.
• Date: December through March.
• Description: Series includes the 1.2-kilometer Taste Festival – Pier River Swim in Carlton Park in December, 0.5-kilometer, 2-kilometer and 5-kilometer Penguin Island Open Water Swim in Port Sorell in January, 0.5-kilometer, 1-kilometer, 2-kilometer Australia Day Swim on Kingston Beach in January, 0.5-kilometer, 1-kilometer and 2-kilometer Clear Water Classic in Carlton Beach in February, and 0.5-kilometer and 2-kilometer River-to-Bluff Swim in Devonport in March.
• Additional Information: Organized by the Surf Life Saving of Tasmania, the series includes 0.5-kilometer races for novice and nippers. It also includes a mass participation Community Series including the 0.5-kilometer and 1-kilometer Early Season Spring Swim in Lauderdale in early November, the 0.5-kilometer and 1-kilometer Nearly Summer Swim in Lauderdale in late November, the 0.5-kilometer and 1-kilometer Twilight Swim in Lauderdale in mid-January, the 1.6-kilometer Fort Beach Swim in South Arm in early February, the 1-kilometer Twilight Swim in Kingston Beach in mid-March, and the 1-kilometer, 2-kilometer and 5-kilometer Devil of a Swim in Bicheno Waubs Bay in early April.

81. Western Australia Open Water Swim Series
• Location: Five-race series throughout Western Australia.
• Course: Various ocean courses.
• Distance: 1.25 kilometers to 10 kilometers.
• Date: November through January.
• Description: Open Water Series #1 includes 1.25-, 2.5-, 5- and 10-kilometer races in Champion Lakes in November, Open Water Series #2 includes 1.25-, 2.5- and 5-kilometer races in Rockingham Foreshore in November, Open Water Series #3 includes 1.25-, 2.5- and 5-kilometer races in Mullaloo Beach in December (with the Carolyn Bourke Memorial Fundraiser), Open Water Series #4 includes 1.25-, 2.5- and 5-kilometer races in Leighton Beach in January, Open Water Series #5 includes 1.25-, 2.5-, 5- and 10-kilometer races in Sorrento Beach in late January. Open Water Series #5 also serves as the Western Australia State Championships and the 10K Rottnest Channel Swim Rotto Rehearsal.

82. Cold Water Swimming Championships
• Location: Tooting Bec Lido in southwest London, England.
• Course: 100 x 33 yard pool with 30,000 square feet of water.
• Distance: 25 yards (head-up breaststroke), 30 meters, 60 meters and team relays.
• Date: January.
• Description: 4°C (39.2°F) water with Competition, Young Seal, Seal and Polar Bear categories.
• Additional Information: Over 680 swimmers from 21 countries, along with 2,500 visitors, braved the cold-water event organized by the South London Swimming Club. The Winter Swimming Championship was conceived in 2000 by the International Winter Swimming Association and is traditionally held in Finland (i.e., at the Raatti Sport Centre near the beach on Raatinsaari Island in Oulu, Finland in March).

83. 10 van Tilburg
• Location: Wilhelminakanaal at Tilburg in the Netherlands.
• Course: Back-and-forth straightaway course in freshwater canal course.
• Distance: 1 kilometer, 3 kilometers, 10 kilometers, 2-kilometer breaststroke.
• Date: August.
• Description: Like other Dutch open water events, many age-group and masters categories are also offered.
• Additional Information: Also offers a swim-run event.

84. Balaton Átúszás
• Location: Lake Balaton (known as the Hungarian Sea) in Hungary.
• Course: Generally calm lake swim.
• Distance: 5.2 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: Upwards to 10,000 swimmers participate in the Balaton Átúszás.
• Additional Information: Lake Balaton, known as the Hungarian Sea, is the largest lake in central Europe and is the site of open water swimming competitions almost every weekend during the summer.

85. Internationale Open Water Wedstrijden Willebroek
• Location: Bloso sportcentrum Hazewinkel in Willebroek in Belgium.
• Course: 2-kilometer freshwater rowing basin.
• Distance: 2 kilometers, 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers.
• Date: August.
• Description: 26th annual swim is always popular.
• Additional Information: Well-organized event that has served as the Belgium Marathon Swimming Championships.

86. Damme-Brugge Open Water Swim
• Location: Canal Hoeke - Sluis in Belgium.
• Course: Straightline course in a freshwater canal from Damme to Brugge.
• Distance: 5 kilometers (freestyle) and 5 kilometers (breaststroke).
• Date: August.
• Description: 87th annual swim is always popular.
• Additional Information: Utilizes a wave start that separates strokes and speed of swimmers, along includes a 4.5-kilometer swim for recreational participants.

87. International Self-Transcendence Marathon Swim
• Location: Lake Zurich, Switzerland.
• Course: Cross-lake swim from Rapperswil to Zurich, Switzerland.
• Distance: 26.4 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: Solo and relay swims can experienced significant surface chop with strong winds.
• Additional Information: An international field usually quickly reaches its maximum number of swimmers.

88. Maraton Guadalupano
• Location: Acapulco, Mexico.
• Course: 2-day open water swimming event in a beautiful beach course in a Mexican resort town.
• Distance: 1 kilometer and 4.2 kilometers
• Date: December.
• Description: 1-kilometer race is one first day from Isla Roqueta to Playa Caleta; 4.2-kilometer race is from Playa Caleta to Playa Hornitos.
• Additional Information: Celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.

89. Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim
• Location: Cork, Ireland.
• Course: Swim under 8 bridges through the center of Cork.
• Distance: 2 kilometers.
• Date: July.
• Description: 1.7 kilometers are downstream and 300 meters upstream.
• Additional Information: Over 300 swimmers participate in a swim that was originally held in 1914.

90. Liffey Swim
• Location: In the Liffey River through Dublin, Ireland.
• Course: Swim through the heard of Dublin.
• Distance: 2.2 kilometers.
• Date: Last weekend in August or first weekend in September.
• Description: Swimmers must qualify for the race by completing five open water swims that are used to calculate the swimmer’s handicap time. Wetsuits are not allowed.
• Additional Information: Over 400 swimmers participate in a swim that was originally held in 1920.

91. RCP Tiburon Mile
• Location: San Francisco Bay, California, U.S.A.
• Course: Cold-water point-to-point swim from Angel Island to the shores of downtown Tiburon.
• Distance: 1.2 miles.
• Date: September or October, depending on the tides.
• Description: Considered to be the fastest and most competitive short-distance race in the world with several Olympic medalists, Olympians, national and world champions, English Channel swimmers and FINA World Cup and FINA Grand Prix winners from over 20 countries, including Russia, Australia, South Africa, Italy, Tunisia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.
• Additional Information: Over 800 swimmers are also treated to the world’s best open water swimming post-race banquet. Overall male and female winner receives a US$10,000 first prize.

92. Waikiki Roughwater Swim
• Location: South shore of Oahu in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
• Course: Start under the Diamond Head volcano and swim across Waikiki Bay over coral reefs to the finish at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
• Distance: 2.4 miles.
• Date: Labor Day Monday in early September.
• Description: Very competitive race where dozens of accomplished swimmers annually compete. Swimmers swim over beautiful coral beds and colorful marine life in a picturesque course.
• Additional Information: Inspiration for the 2.4-mile swim in the Ironman Triathlon. High surf and strong currents are occasionally encountered by participants of all ages and backgrounds from dozens of countries and every U.S. state. In 1970, the race saw 4 women and 32 men swim across Waikiki. Over 1,000 people now annually enter the race.

93. Trans Tahoe Relay
• Location: Lake Tahoe, bordering the states of Nevada and California in the western U.S.A.
• Course: From Sand Harbor Beach in Nevada to Skylandia Beach, Lake Forest, California at 1,889 meters (6,200 feet) altitude.
• Distance: 11.5 miles.
• Date: July.
• Description: 6-person relay that brings in many accomplished pool and open water swimmers including world open water swimming champions, FINA World Cup and FINA Grand Prix pro swimmers, and NCAA and Olympic Trial qualifiers and top masters swimmers from dozens of states and countries.
• Additional Information: It is a cold-water (12.7-15.5C° or 55-60°F), clear-water event that requires a high level of physical fitness. Now in its 32nd year, the popular and prestigious relay race is the only swim race that crosses two state lines. Wetsuits are not allowed.

94. Maui Channel Swim
• Location: In the Au’au Channel between the island of Lanai and the island of Maui in Hawaii, U.S.A.
• Course: Start at the north side of Lanai on an uninhabited stretch of beach and finish on the south side of Maui.
• Distance: 9.6 miles.
• Date: Early September (Saturday before the American Labor Day)
• Description: Solo and relay swimmers cross a deep-water, beautiful channel as they gaze upon 5 islands (Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Oahu and Hawaii) if the weather permits. Generally calm conditions, colorful marine life and clear warm cobalt blue water makes this event the most popular relay swim in the world. Marine life, strong winds and strong currents on occasion.
• Additional Information: The six-person relay race, started as a competition in 1972 between the Waikiki Swim Club and the Olympic Club of San Francisco, has now grown to over 60 teams of six and dozens of solo swimmers from numerous states, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. Swimmers rotate every 30 minutes. Maui Channel Swim is followed by the 2.4-mile ’Aumakau Swim and Maui Sprint Mile.

95. Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
• Location: Maryland, U.S.A.
• Course: Point-to-point swim across Chesapeake Bay.
• Distance: 4.4 miles.
• Date: June.
• Description: brings in many top open water swimmers from the Midwest and East Coast. Strong currents on occasion; most popular swim on East Coast.
• Additional Information: In 1982, a 21-year-old local swimmer was the first to cross the Chesapeake Bay in memory of his father. In 1983, two swimmers entered the first official race and 60 swimmers participated in the second year. The swim grew to 870 entrants by 1990, with finishers ranging from 12 to 76 years old. In order to maintain high safety standards, the organizing committee now limits the race to 600 swimmers. It takes less than 18 minutes for the entire field of 600 swimmers to be filled up using the current online entry system.

96. Big Shoulders Swim
• Location: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
• Course: Swim triangular course in Lake Michigan near downtown Chicago.
• Distance: 2.5 kilometers and 5 kilometers.
• Date: September.
• Description: Nearly 700 swimmers compete including the top open water swimmers across the Midwest states. Wetsuits are allowed.
• Additional Information: Offers six starts waves: 34 & under 5K non-wetsuit, 35-44 5K non-wetsuit, 45 & over 5K non-wetsuit, 5K wetsuit and race day registrations, 44 & under 2.5K, and 45 & over 2.5K.

97. Lake Travis Relay
• Location: Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.
• Course: Point-to-point course that starts in the main basin of Lake Travis at Mansfield Dam Park and finishes on the dock of The Pier.
• Distance: 12 miles
• Date: October.
• Description: A 6-person relay swim (and up to 10 solo swimmers) that finishes at The Pier restaurant. Recognized by the Austin American-Statesman as one of Austin's top ten recreation events (along with the Money Box Cap 2k). Swimmers in this 6-person relay swim 20-minutes legs, then 15-minutes legs, and then 10-minute legs in the most popular lake in Texas. Water temperature is between 25.5-26.6°C (78-80°F).
• Additional Information: The Lake Travis Relay is one of the 9 open water events conducted by the American Swimming Association around the Austin area. The series includes the Money Box Cap 2k Open Water, 2-kilometer Open Water Texas High School State Championships in Lady Bird Lake in May, the Volente Beach Open Water Family Gala in Lake Travis (200-meter, 400-meter and 1-mile swims from Volente Beach around Starnes Island and back in June), The Highland Lakes Challenge (stage swims in 5 lakes in 5 days in October), the Dam 5k in Mansfield Dam Park in Lake Travis in November, the 5-kilometer ASA Open Water Collegiate National Championships in Mansfield Dam Park in Lake Travis in November, and The Quarries Open Water Festival in Lake Travis (1-mile, 400-meter, 800-meter, 1-mile and 1-mile (4 x 400 relay swims) in The Quarries in November), and the Polar Bear Swim (200-meter and 1-mile swims in the main basin of Lake Travis on New Year's Day).

98. The Alcatraz Challenge
• Location: From Alcatraz Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay to East Beach near Presidio Park in San Francisco, California.
• Course: Point-to-point swim within the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the picturesque San Francisco skyline.
• Distance: Current-aided 2.4 miles
• Date: August.
• Description: Strong currents, marine life and very cold water (under 15.5°C or 60°F).
• Additional Information: Was initially held in 1981 with fewer than 100 participants. In 2007, there are now seven annual 1.5-mile races, each of which sells out months in advance. Nearly 6,000 participants from all over the world travel to San Francisco to test themselves against the 12.7°C (55°F) waters and powerful currents.

99. Catalina Channel
• Location: Channel between Santa Catalina Island that lies 21 miles off the coast of Southern California, U.S.A.
• Course: Shortest point-to-point course is from Emerald Bay on Santa Catalina Island to the San Pedro Peninsula, near Cabrillo Beach.
• Distance: 21 miles
• Date: Solo and relay attempts generally made from June to October.
• Description: A deep-water channel that is America’s comparable to the English Channel in terms of water conditions, difficulty, distance and the physical and mental challenges to the swimmer. Mid-60°F water in summer; marine life is seen on occasion, including migrating whales and large pods of dolphins.
• Additional Information: First successful swim was in January, 1927 when Canadian George Young won $25,000 in the Wrigley Ocean Marathon Swim in 15 hours and 44 minutes.

100. Swim Across America Series
• Locations: From San Francisco to Boston, U.S.A.
• Course: Boston event starts and finishes at Rowes Wharf in downtown Boston.
• Distance: 22 miles
• Date: July.
• Description: Relay where each swimmer swims 15-minute sessions.
• Additional Information: Series has generated over $20 million to the research, treatment and prevention of cancer. Series organizer also hosts six other Swim Across America events where many Olympians participate. Events includes Swim Across America Greenwich Swims (½-mile and 1-mile swims) in Greenwich, Connecticut in June, the Swim Across America Nantasket Beach Swim in Boston, Massachusetts in July, the Swim Across America Lake Michigan Swim (½-mile, 1-mile, 1.5-mile and 3-mile swims) in Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois in July, the Swim Across America Long Island Sound Swims (1-mile, 4-mile and 6-mile swims) in Westchester County, New York in July, the Swim Across America Sound to the Cove Swim (1-mile, 5K and 10K swims) in Long Island Sound, Glen Cove, New York in August, and the Swim Across America San Francisco Bay Relay Swim (10 miles) in October.

What other swims could have easily been included in this list? The number of swims is lengthy, such as the Straits of Magellan in Chile, Skagerrak Strait between Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope both in South Africa, Beagle Channel between Argentina and Chile, Lake Titicaca from Bolivia to Peru, Gulf of Aqaba (or Eilat) between Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Rottnest Channel in Australia, Loch Ness in Scotland, Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast in the U.S.A., Spanish Balearic Islands, the 42-kilometer Santa Barbara Channel in California, U.S.A., Five Lakes of Mount Fuji in Japan, Lac St-Jean in Quebec, Canada, Jeble to Latakia in Syria, Valentia Island off of the west coast of Ireland, Cross Harbor swim from the five islands to Carenage Jetty, Tampa Bay, Nike Swim Miami and Key West, Florida, North Shore Swim Series in Hawaii, a whole series of swims in Brazil, all the LEN Open Water Cup races throughout Europe, the Cascade Lake Swim Series in Oregon, U.S.A., the 17K Irish Championships in Lough Erne, The West Coast 1000 in Western Australia, the Oresund between Denmark and Sweden, the Kattegut between Norway to Sweden, to Sado Island from Japan, the dozens of coastal swims in California, U.S.A. and throughout Australia, Italy and Spain, and the hundreds of Polar Bear Swims around the world.

For America's Top 50 Open Water Swims, click here.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association


Unknown said...

I wishi I were 40 years younger & a million dollars richer.....

Anonymous said...

Oh, WHY oh WHY do I have to work? I could do one or two or ten of these a year and never get them all done.
This should be posted at every Master's club , every indoor pool and every YMCA . There is sooo much to do and so much fun to be had.
Steve, you made my day.

Steven Munatones said...

It is my goal to provide a similar description of the remaining 1,400+ (and growing) open water swims in our current database. I figure there are at least another 500 swims that I do not know about throughout South America, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, the Middle East and from Seville to Siberia.

Danielle said...

There is also an awesome swim in Miami, FL annually, it is the Nike Swim Miami. Check it out at They bring Olympic greats to participate and swim alongside weekend warriors... They also put on an entire festival that includes as swimmers that compete can stay and enjoy a professional wakeboard championship, live music, BMX stunt shows, Skateboard Demos, and Bikini Fashion Shows.

Steven Munatones said...

We totally agree. The Nike Swim Miami could have easily been placed on this list because it offers distances for every age and ability and provides strong competition for the elite swimmers and an enjoyable setting for those who simply want to be a part of open water swimming in south Florida.

Anonymous said...

are #19 and #54 the same event? now you have room to add one more. ;)

fun list, thanks for putting it together. it is fun both to see a listing of top swims I have heard of, and to broaden my horizons with new ones I don't already know of. I also like the diversity of top elite/pro races, open entry events, and solo/relay challenges.

agree with the posters above re: wishing for limitless time and money ... how fun it would be to dedicate a good chunk of time to swim-focused travel!

Steven Munatones said...

Thank you very much for pointing out about the redundancy of #19 and #54. We substituted an around-the-island swim in Ketchikan, Alaska (the Pennock Island Challenge) for #54 due to its unusual nature and unique location.

PaulDJesse said...

You've got the La Jolla Rough Water but what about the 10-mile relay? It didn't happen last year but we've been emailing with the directors and it looks like a go this year.

Steven Munatones said...

I did not post the 10-mile relay because it did not happen last year and because I was not sure if the La Jolla Rough Water Swim people are also the same individuals who manage the 10-mile relay. Numerous emails to the La Jolla Rough Water Swim Committee have gone unanswered since 2006. If you can confirm the 10-mile swim with its organizers, please send the details to and we will report on it. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

It´s an absolute honour not only to be on the top 100 open water swims, but te 11th! Despite the difficults on create the list and the impossible to avoid subjective elections, we are plenty of proud. Just to elaborate this ranking is a big achievement.

We are just wishing to welcome in Navia the first US swimmer in our bigger than 50 years history! 2009 appointment: on August 9th!!!

Thanks for all, Mr. Munatones, it would be a dream to know you someday!

TomH said...

Nice list of swims. I would like to see 2 different lists, one for swims on the pro circuit, and one list for swims that anyone can enter.

Steven Munatones said...

Tom, you make an excellent point. However, there are not 100 pro swims around the world - and most of the pro swims actually have an amateur race also conducted on the same weekend. For example, the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup that will be held on September 6 in New York City will also hold an amateur race along the same course 2 days before and will also have a 1-mile race near the same course the day before.

El Bruce said...

Does anyone know when the Maraton de Guadalupana will be held in 2009? I know it's in December, but can't find a date posted anywhere. Thanks!

Steven Munatones said...

El Bruce,
The race director will confirm the date soon.

Vadim Lisovoy said...

5 km open water in Ukraine!

Sudak (Black Sea)
Every year marathon swim at beginning of September
2009 start date: 5.09.2009 at 9.00 AM
Timezone: Europe/Amsterdam

or more info with our member Julia Vasilkova
+38 (050) 638-38-86