Get to know more about Open Water history and its techniques


Open Water swimming history


Open water swimming takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as:  seas, lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs. The distance of each event varies from 1km to 80km, but at major competitive level, the typical distances are 5km, 10km and 25km.

Swimming in open water has a long and colourful history dating back as far as 36BC, when the Japanese organised the first open water races.


The Romans held high-profile races in the Tiber, when thousands would crowd along the banks to watch and cheer.

The Knights in the middle ages reputedly had to swim in full armour as one of their seven required agilities.

The beginning of the modern age of open water swimming is sometimes taken to be May 3, 1810, when Lord Byron swam several miles to cross the Hellespont (now known as the Dardanelles) from Europe to Asia.

In the first edition of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, the swimming competition was held in open water.

Although open water races had been held for over a hundred years it was not until 1986 that FINA, swimming’s world governing body, officially recognised the event again and added it to the international competition calendar.

In 2000, the Olympic Games first included a triathlon with a 1500m swim leg, and in 2008, a 10km open water swim. 5, 10, and 25km open water races are included in the General Fina World Championships.

Open water swimming rose to significance after the International Olympic Committee listed a 10km race as one of the events for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.


The activity has grown in popularity in recent years with the publication of bestselling books on « wild swimming » by authors such as Kate Rew and Daniel Start.Further developments have taken place with the National Open Water Coaching Association with Rick Kiddle – Martin Alan and Robert Hamilton focusing on the safety, coaching development of open water swimming and advisory body to Clubs, Governing Bodies.

Join us for the open water race on 10.10.15 by clicking on the link below: