The World Open Water Swimming Heritage Sites

The World Open Water Swimming Heritage Sites

In a new initiative, Open Water Source plans to work with a variety of environmental and sporting entities, including interested individuals from around the world, to designate well-known open water swimming locations as World Open Water Swimming Heritage Sites.

The effort is to help protect and celebrate globally recognized open water swimming venues.

Similar to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of World Heritage Sites (e.g., Great Barrier Reef and Shark Bay in Australia) and the new World Surfing Reserves, the designation is ceremonial at this time, but hopefully, will lead for more concrete protection and public recognition and support in the future.

The World Surfing Reserves designated Malibu, California’s Surfrider Beach as its first designated site, a distinction that celebrates the surf break for its size, shape and cultural significance in the world of surfing.

Similarly, Open Water Source proposes a list of candidate sites for the new World Open Water Swimming Heritage Sites. These locations have specific importance to the global open water swimming community due to the popularity, history, beauty or difficulty of the swims. Your opinions and additions to this initial list are encouraged from the open water swimming community.

1. Absecon Island in New Jersey, U.S.A.
Significance: Over 100 years of open water swimming history including four decades of professional marathon swimming history.

2. Acapulco Bay in Mexico
Significance: Site of popular open water swims for over 50 years.

3. Aquatic Park in San Francisco Bay, California, U.S.A.
Significance: Popular cold-water swimming location in the heart of a major metropolitan area.

4. Bonaire in the Netherland Antilles
Significance: Site of beautiful tropical swims over pristine coral reefs.

5. Canal Canal Hoeke – Sluis in Belgium
Significance: Site of over 100 years of open water swimming competitions.

6. Capri to Napoli in Italy
Significance: Site of decades of popular marathon swims between the island of Capri and Napoli.

7. Cook Strait between the North and South Islands in New Zealand
Significance: Site of one of the world’s most challenging marathon swims.

8. English Channel between England and France
Significance: Site of the world’s most famous channel swim.

9. Harrington Sound in Bermuda
Significance: Site of beautiful tropical swims in Palmetto Bay.

10. Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands
Significance: Site of popular marathon swims for over four decades.

11. Island of Jersey in the English Channel
Significance: Challenging circumnavigation swim first completed in 1969.

12. Istanbul Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara in Turkey
Significance: Site of the Boğazıçi Kitalararasi Yarislari (Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim) where swimmers are able to swim between Asia and Europe.

13. Key West in Florida, U.S.A.
Significance: Site of popular marathon swims.

14. Lac St-Jean in Quebec, Canada
Significance: Five decades of successful professional marathon swimming history with a growing popularity among younger athletes and amateurs.

15. Lac Memphremagog in Quebec, Canada
Significance: Site of popular lake swims including decades of professional marathon swims.

16. La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California, U.S.A.
Significance: Site of competitive open water swimming since 1916.

17. Lake Baikal in Russia
Significance: Largest natural lake in the world.

18. Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan
Significance: Site of centuries of open water swimming in Japan’s largest natural lake north of Kyoto.

19. Lake Ontario in Canada
Significance: Site of nearly 50 years of marathon swimming.

20. Lake Pingvellir, Lake National Park in Iceland
Significance: Site of cold-water swims in Iceland’s largest natural lake.

21. Lake Tahoe in Nevada and California, U.S.A.
Significance: Site of popular marathon swims and relays in a pristine high-altitude lake.

22. Lake Willoughby in Vermont, U.S.A.
Significance: A geological aquatic marvel that is site to a growing number of open water swims.

23. Lake Windermere in the Lake District of England
Significance: Over 100 years of open water swimming history with decades of competitive marathon swimming.

24. Lake Zirahuen in Michoacán, Mexico
Significance: Popular training site for cold-water and channel swims.

25. Lake Zürich in Switzerland
Significance: Site of popular competitive marathon swims.

26. Liffey River in Ireland
Significance: Site of popular community-based open water swims.

27. Maracas Bay in Trinidad & Tobago
Significance: Site of over 50 years of popular open water swimming competitions.

28. Midmar Dam in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa
Significance: Site of the world’s largest competitive open water swim.

29. Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elisabeth, South Africa
Significance: Site of marine sports including open water swimming competitions.

30. North Channel between Scotland and Ireland
Significance: Considered to be the most challenging channel swim in the world.

31. Pennock Island in Alaska, U.S.A.
Significance: Led the growth of open water swimming in the State of Alaska.

32. Ria de Navia in Spain
Significance: Site of over 50 years of open water swimming competitions for swimmers of all ages and abilities.

33. Robben Island Channel in Cape Town, South Africa
Significance: Site of popular cold-water swimming competitions and solo marathon swims.

34. Rottnest Channel between Rottnest Island and the coast of Western Australia
Significance: Site of a challenging and popular channel swim.

35. Sandycove Island in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Significance: Training ground for open water swimmers and triathletes of all ages, abilities and goals.

36. San Pedro Channel in California, U.S.A.
Significance: Popularly known as Catalina Channel, the 21-mile channel between Santa Catalina Island and Southern California has been a challenge to marathon swimmers since 1927.

37. Serpentine Lake in London, England
Significance: Site of open water swims since the 19th century and site of the 2012 London Olympics 10K Marathon Swim.

38. Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island on the Cayman Islands
Significance: Site of popular open water swims.

39. Stari Grad Bay in Croatia
Significance: Site of popular marathon swims.

40. St. Croix in U.S. Virgin Islands
Significance: Site of popular open water swims near the largest island barrier coral reef in the Caribbean Sea.

41. Strait of Gibraltar
Significance: Site of a challenging channel swim across strong tidal flows between Spain and Morocco.

42. Strait of Messina in Sicily, Italy
Significance: Site of popular open water swimming competitions and solo marathon swims.

43. Waikiki Beach on Oahu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Significance: Site of open water swims for centuries and birthplace of the swim leg of Ironman triathlons.

44. Maui (Auau) Channel between Lanai and Maui Island, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Significance: Site of an introductory inter-island swim and one of the world’s most popular marathon relays.

If there is any interest in being a part of this initiative, email here with your suggestions and contact information.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association