Open Water Swimming History At The Olympics

Open Water Swimming History At The Olympics

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When I look at the sport of open water swimming over the past 150 years, there seems to be cycles of increased activity, exposure and events every 20-30 years,” observed Steven Munatones, a historian of the sport.

Although we can trace marathon swimming back to 480 B.C. with the 14 km swim by Skyllias and Hydna in the straits of Artemision in Greece, the more modern-day discipline of open water swimming is clearly defined with group swims throughout Japan and friendly competitions in the Serpentine in London, England in the latter part of the 19th century including the Peter Pan Christmas Morning Swim and the 33.5 km crossing of the English Channel in 1872 by Captain Matthew Webb.

Then 25-35 years later, the first Olympic swims were held in 1896 Athens Olympic Games in the Bay of Zea in the Aegean Sea, Greece, in the Seine River in the 1900 Paris Olympic Games, and in Life Saving Exhibition Lake at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics – as well as a slew of many open water swimming competitions held around the world after the start of the 20th century from Belgium to England.

The sport got another boost in the 1920s and early ’30s after things settled down after World War I, exemplified when Gertrude Ederle completed the first crossing by a women of the English Channel in 1926, George Young completed the first Catalina Channel crossing in 1927, and the Canadian National Exhibition races got underway.

With the Great Depression and World War II, there was an abnormally long break in the global open water swimming scene although there continued to be races like the aQuellé River Mile in South Africa and 10 crossings of the English Channel during the 1930’s and 7 crossings in the 1940s.*

But open water swimming started to pick up again in the 1950s and continued to build through the 1960s and 1970s when races like the Waikiki Roughwater Swim and aQuellé Midmar Mile started. Private discussions started picking up pace to think about the possibility of adding a marathon swim to the Olympic program in the 1980s with a serious meeting with IOC and FINA representatives at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

When the FINA formally submitted its wish to add a 10 km marathon swim to the Olympic program in 2005, the request was immediately accepted and planning for the first Olympic 10K Marathon Swim began for the 2008 Beijing Games.

Women’s 10 km marathon swim start at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Locations

Since the inaugural 10 km marathon swim in Beijing, the sport’s venue have included a rowing basin in 2008, a manmade lake in 2012, a world-famous beach in 2016, a still warm-water bay in Tokyo, a return to the Seine scheduled for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and a return to a still warm-water bay at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Participants of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (in Tokyo Bay):

1. Xin Xin (China)
2. Haley Anderson (USA)
3. Rachele Bruni (Italy)
4. Lara Grangeon (France)
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
6. Ashley Twichell (USA)
7. Kareena Lee (Australia)
8. Finnia Wunram (Germany)
9. Leonie Beck (Germany)
10. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)
11. Anna Olasz (Hungary)
12. Paula Ruiz Bravo (Spain)
13. Kate Sanderson (Canada)
14. Alice Dearing (Great Britain)
15. Angelica Andre (Portugal)
16. Cecilia Biagioli (Argentina)
17. Anastasia Kirpichnikova (Russian)
18. Samantha Arevalo (Ecuador)
19. Spela Perse (Slovenia)
20. Yumi Kida (Japan)
21. Michelle Weber (South Africa)
22. Paola Perez (Venezuela)
23. Krystyna Panchishko (Ukraine)
24. Li-Shan Chantal Liew (Singapore)
25. Souad Nefissa Cherouati (Algeria)

1. Florian Wellbrock (Germany)
2. Marc-Antoine Olivier (France)
3. Rob Muffels (Germany)
4. Kristóf Rasovszky (Hungary)
5. Jordan Wilimovsky (USA)
6. Gregorio Paltrinieri (Italy)
7. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
8. Alberto Martinez (Spain)
9. Mario Sanzullo (Italy)
10. David Aubry (France)
11. Hector Thomas Cheal Pardoe, Great Britain
12. Athanasios Kynigakis, Greece
13. Matan Roditi, Israel
14. Kai Graeme Edwards, Australia
15. Taishin Minamide, Japan
16. Tiago Campos, Portugal
17. Kirill Abrosimov, Russia
18. David Farinango, Ecuador
19. Ous Mellouli, Tunisia
20. Michael McGlynn, South Africa
21. Daniel Delgadillo, Mexico
22. Matej Kozubek, Czech Republic
23. Hau-Li Fan, Canada
24. Phillip Seidler, Namibia
25. William Yan Thorley, Hong Kong

Results of the 2016 Rio Olympics (in Copacabana Beach):

Gold: Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands) 1:56:32.1
Silver: Rachele Bruni (Italy) 1:56:49.5
Bronze: Poliana Okimoto (Brazil) 1:56:51.4
4. Xin Xin (China) 1:57:14.4
5. Haley Anderson (United States) 1:57:20.2
6. Isabelle Härle (Germany) 1:57:22.1
7. Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain) 1:57:23.9
8. Anastasia Krapivina (Russia) 1:57:25.9
9. Samantha Arevalo (Ecuador) 1:57:27.2
10. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 1:57:29.0
11. Kalliopi Araouzou (Greece) 1:57:31.6
12. Yumi Kida (Japan) 1:57:35.2
13. Éva Risztov (Hungary) 1:57:42.8
14. Anna Olasz (Hungary) 1:57:45.5
15. Chelsea Gubecka (Australia) 1:58:12.7
16. Spela Perse (Slovenia) 1:58:59.6
17. Erika Villaecija (Spain) 1:59:04.8
18. Michelle Weber (South Africa) 1:59:05.0
19. Jana Pechanova (Czech Republic) 1:59:07.7
20. Paola Perez (Venezuela) 1:59:07.7
21. Heidi Gan (Malaysia) 1:59:07.9
22. Joanna Zachoszcz (Poland) 1:59:20.4
23. Stephanie Horner (Canada) 1:59:22.1
24. Vânia Neves (Portugal) 2:01:39.3
25. Reem Mohamed Husein Elsayed Kaseem (Egypt) 2:05:19.1
DSQ Aurélie Muller (France)

Gold: Ferry Weertman (Netherlands) 1:52:59.8
Silver: Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) 1:52:59.8
Bronze: Marc-Antoine Daniel Frede Olivier (France) 1:53:02.0
4. Lijun Zu (China) 1:53:02.0
5. Jordan Wilimovsky (USA) 1:53:03.2
6. Simone Ruffini (Italy) 1:53:03.5
7. Federico Vanelli (Italy) 1:53:03.9
8. Yasunari Hirai (Japan) 1:53:04.6
9. Christian Reichert (Germany) 1:53:04.7
10. Chad Ho (South Africa) 1:53:04.8
11. Evgenii Drattcev (Russia) 1:53:04.8
12. Ous Mellouli (Tunisia) 1:53:06.1
13. Mark Papp (Hungary) 1:53:11.7
14. Ventsislav Aydaski (Bulgaria) 1:53:16.1
15. Ivan Enderica Ochoa (Ecuador) 1:53:16.2
16. Richard Weinberger (Canada) 1:53:16.4
17. Allan Do Carmo (Brazil) 1:53:16.4
18. Kane Rae Francis Radford (New Zealand) 1:53:18.7
19. Richard Nagy (Slovakia) 1:53:35.4
20. Jarrod Poort (Australia) 1:53:40.7
21. Erwin Maldonado (Venezuela) 1:54:33.6
22. Marwan Ahmed Aly Morsy Elamrawy (Egypt) 1:59:17.2
DSQ Sean Ryan (USA)
DSQ Vitaliy Khudyakov (Kazakhstan)
DSQ Jack Burnell (Great Britain)

Results of the 2012 London Olympics (in Serpentine):

Gold: Eva Risztov (Hungary) 1:57:38.2
Silver: Haley Anderson (USA) 1:57:38.6
Bronze: Martina Grimaldi (Italy) 1:57:41.8
4. Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain) 1:57:42.2
5. Angela Maurer (Germany) 1:57:52.8
6. Ophelie Aspord (France) 1:58:43.1
7. Olga Beresnyeva (Ukraine) 1:58:44.4 *
8. Erika Villaecija (Spain) 1:58:49.5
9. Jana Pechanova (Czech Republic) 1:58:52.8
10. Anna Guseva (Russia) 1:58:53.0
11. Melissa Gorman (Australia) 1:58:53.1
12. Karla Sitic (Croatia) 1:58:54.7
13. Yumi Kida (Japan) 1:58:59.1
14. Yanel Pinto (Venezuela) 1:59:05.8
15. Natalia Charlos (Poland) 1:59:58.7
16. Heidi Gan (Malaysia) 2:00:45.0
17. Cecilia Biagioli (Argentina) 2:01:02.2
18. Zsofia Balazs (Canada) 2:01:17.8
19. Swann Oberson (Switzerland) 2:01:38.0
20. Wing Yung Natasha Terri Tang (Hong Kong) 2:02:33.4
21. Lizeth Rueda Santos (Mexico) 2:02:46.1
22. Marianna Lymperta (Greece) 2:04:26.5
DNF Poliana Okimoto (Brazil)
DNF Jessica Roux (South Africa)
DNS Yanqiao Fang (China)

  • Olga Beresnyeva finished seventh in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, but was later disciplined in June 2015 by the IOC after one of her drug tests was found positive for the presence of recombinant erythropoietin (rEPO).

Gold: Oussama Mellouli (Tunisia) 1:49:55.1
Silver: Thomas Lurz (Germany) 1:49:58.5
Bronze: Richard Weinberger (Canada) 1:50:00.3
4. Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) 1:50:05.3
5. Daniel Fogg (Great Britain) 1:50:37.3
6. Sergey Bolshakov (Russia) 1:50:40.1
7. Vladimir Dyatchin (Russia) 1:50:42.8
8. Andreas Waschburger (Germany) 1:50:44.4
9. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria) 1:50:46.2
10. Alex Meyer (USA) 1:50:48.2
11. Julien Sauvage (France) 1:50:51.3
12. Troyden Prinsloo (South Africa) 1:50:52.9
13. Erwin Maldonado (Venezuela) 1:50:52.9
14. Igor Chervynskiy (Ukraine) 1:50:56.9
15. Yasunari Hirai (Japan) 1:51:20.1
16. Brian Ryckeman (Belgium) 1:51:27.1
17. Valerio Cleri (Italy) 1:51:29.5
18. Csaba Gercsak (Hungary) 1:51:30.9
19. Arseniy Lavrentyev (Portugal) 1:51:37.2
20. Ky Hurst (Australia) 1:51:41.3
21. Ivan Enderica Ochoa (Ecuador) 1:52:28.6
22. Yuriy Kudinov (Kazakhstan) 1:52:59.0
23. Francisco Jose Hervas (Spain) 1:53:27.8
24. Mazen Aziz Metwaly (Egypt) 1:54:33.2
25. Benjamin Schulte (Guam) 2:03:35.1

Results of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (in Serpentine):

Gold: Larisa Ilchenko (Russia) 1:59:27.7
Silver: Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain) 1:59:29.2
Bronze: Cassandra Patten (Great Britain) 1:59:31.0
4. Angela Maurer (Germany) 1:59:31.9
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 1:59:36.8
6. Swann Oberson (Switzerland) 1:59:36.9
7. Poliana Okimoto (Brazil) 1:59:37.4
8. Jana Pechanová (Czech Republic) 1:59:39.7
9. Andreína del Valle Pinto Pérez (Venezuela) 1:59:40.0
10. Martina Grimaldi (Italy) 1:59:42.3
11. Marianna Lymperta (Greece) 1:59:42.3
12. Teja Zupan (Slovenia) 1:59:43.7
13. Yurema Requena (Spain) 1:59:46.9
14. Edith van Dijk (Netherlands) 2:00:02.8
15. Melissa Gorman (Australia) 2:00:33.6
16. Natalie du Toit South Africa 2:00:49.9
17. Daniela Inácio (Portugal) 2:00:59.0
18. Eva Berglund (Sweden) 2:01:05.0
19. Fang Yanqiao (China) 2:01:07.9
20. Imelda Martínez (Mexico) 2:01:07.9
21. Aurelie Muller (France) 2:02:04.1
22. Chloe Sutton (United States) 2:02:13.6
23. Natalya Samorodina (Ukraine) 2:10:41.6
24. Antonella Bogarin (Argentina) 2:11:35.9
DNF Kristel Köbrich (Chile)

Gold: Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands) 1:51:51.6
Silver: David Davies (Great Britain) 1:51:53.1
Bronze: Thomas Lurz (Germany) 1:51:53.6
4. Valerio Cleri (Italy) 1:52:07.5
5. Evgeny Drattsev (Russia) 1:52:08.9
6. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria) 1:52:09.1
7. Brian Ryckeman (Belgium) 1:52:10.7
8. Mark Warkentin (United States) 1:52:13.0
9. Chad Ho (South Africa) 1:52:13.1
10. Erwin Leon Maldonado Savera (Venezuela) 1:52:13.6
11. Ky Hurst (Australia) 1:52:13.7
12. Igor Chervynskiy (Ukraine) 1:52:14.7
13. Francisco Jose Hervas (Spain) 1:52:16.
14. Allan do Carmo (Brazil) 1:52:16.6
15. Gilles Rondy (France) 1:52:16.7
16. Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) 1:52:20.4
17. Rostislav Vitek (Czech Republic) 1:52:41.8
18. Luis Escobar (Mexico) 1:53:47.9
19. Saleh Mohammad (Syria) 1:54:37.7
20. Mohamed Elzanaty (Egypt) 1:55:17.0
21. Damian Blaum (Argentina) 1:55:48.6
22. Arseniy Lavrentyev (Portugal) 2:03:39.6
23. Xin Tong (China) 2:09:13.4
DNF Csaba Gercsak (Hungary)
DSQ Vladimir Dyatchin (Russia)

* English Channel swimmers of the 1930’s: Margaret DuncanEthel (Sunny) LowryEmma FaberEdward TemmeHaydn TaylorThomas BlowerBruna Wendel-Plarre, Fernley Wheatcroft, and Sally Bauer

* English Channel swimmers of the 1940s: Daniel CarpioThomas BlowerHassan Abdel Rehim, Philip MickmanFernand Du MoulinHassan Abdel Rehim, and Mareh Hassan Hamed

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