Olympic Channel

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History of

Marathon Swimming

Marathon swimming is the longest swimming event on the Olympic programme, covering 10km in open water. Lasting around two hours, the race tests swimmers’ endurance and is often decided by tenths of seconds.

Returning to Swimming’s Roots

Marathon swimming brings Olympic swimming back to its origins. Open water swimming events were on the programme of the first three editions of the modern Olympic Games, utilising oceans, rivers or lakes prior to the adoption of swimming pools.

Becoming Official

Open water swimming didn’t become an official discipline until the FINA World Championships 1991 in Perth, Australia. There, the race distance was 25km for both men and women, taking competitors more than five hours to reach the finish. In 2001, the 10km race was added and since 2007, FINA has organized a Series competition around the globe and across several continents.