Major International Open Water Swimming Events

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) is the organization tasked by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to oversee international aquatic sports competitions. There are 5 aquatic sports FINA supervises, which include open water swimming.

Simply defined, open water swimming is swimming in any of the different bodies of water, including rivers, bays, lakes, or oceans. Several events are held in different countries at various times of the year. Three of the most notable open water swimming events that draw competitors from around the world are the Round Christiansborg Open Water Swim, the Rottnest Channel Swim, and the Great Swim.

Round Christiansborg Open Water Swim:

This event, which is considered one of Europe's best open water swimming contests, is held in Slotsholmen, an island in Copenhagen, Denmark. It takes place in August during which temperatures of the waters at the 2,000-meter Frederiksholm Canal racecourse range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Competitors have to complete five loops, for a total distance of 10,000 meters. The event holds two sets of competitions - one in the morning and another in the afternoon. The morning competition, dubbed the FINA 10-kilometer Marathon Swimming World Cup, offers a pot of 11,000 U.S. dollars. Amateur swimmers compete in the afternoon event.

Rottnest Channel Swim:

This event is known to be one of the world's biggest open water swimming events, in terms of the number of participants and the total distance the race covers. It is held annually (around February) in Western Australia. The race begins at Cotesloe Beach and ends at Rottnest Island, a distance of 19,700 meters (19.7 kilometers).

Started in 1991, this swimming event is participated in by some 2,000 competitors of all ages every year. The competition has both individual and team (with 2 or 4 members) races.

Great Swim:

This event was initially staged on September 14, 2008 at Lake Windermere, England. The race, called Great North Swim, covered a distance of 1.61 kilometers. More than 2,000 swimmers competed in this race and the event was considered a big success.

The following year, four separate Great Swim events were held:

1. Great London Swim - held at the Royal Victoria Dock on August 15, 2009 (initial staging).

2. Great Scottish Swim - held at the Strathclyde Park on August 29, 2009 (initial staging).

3. Great North Swim - held on September 12 and 13, 2009 (second staging).

4. Great East Swim - held at Alton Water on September 26, 2009 (initial staging).

The success of the 2008 edition of the Great North Swim continued in the 2009 event, with more than 6,000 participants, about 77 percent of which was recorded to have finished the race. Swimmers from all over the world hope all four Great Swim events will be held every year.

The origin of open water swimming, both as a recreation and a sport, may be traced to the successful Europe-Asia swim of Lord Byron across the Turkish strait of Hellespont on May 3, 1810. The first recorded use of open water swimming in a sporting event was during the first holding of the modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece.

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