Just How Old Are Open Water Swimmers?

Just How Old Are Open Water Swimmers?

Who are open water swimmers? How old are they? What are the demographics of the sport?

We took a look at the make-up of the open water swimmers at two popular mass participation races: the 2.8 km State Harbour Crossing in Auckland of the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Honolulu, Hawaii.

One is a swim in cold water where neoprene reigns; the other is a swim in tropically warm water where bioprene is the norm. One is in the Southern Hemisphere; the other is in the Northern Hemisphere. So this tiny sampling of the open water swimming community may give a hint as to what the open water swimming possibly looks like in reality.

Among the 1,413 participants of the State Harbour Crossing:

* 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%

The Waikiki Roughwater Swim, with about 400 fewer swimmers, had some not-surprisingly similar data:

* 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%

Photo of 18-year-old Emma Robinson at the State Capital Classic of the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones