So I copied this from the Open Water Source website , they have listed the top 100 swims in the world… here are the top 15, but feel free to go to the site and check out the rest.  If you want to try something different… rather than do a travel marathon or triathlon, why not try a swim trip!  Pick a place in the world where you would like to go and there is likely a race there… long or short… large number of participant or just a few… warm or cold water… something for everyone!



The world has more than 3,000 sanctioned open water swimming clinics, camps, tours, races and events in at least 158 countries.  The sport is growing like never before – and usually under the radar of national governing bodies and the mass media.  But here is a list of some of the world’s greatest, most popular or challenging open water swims. Enjoy.

1. Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival
• Location: Sun Moon Lake (Jih Yueh Tan in Taiwanese) in central Taiwan.
• Course: A mass participation cross-lake swim with up to 22,000 participants.
• Distance: 3.3K
• Date: August
• Description: The world’s largest mass participation open water swimming event has different start groups for individuals of all ages and abilities.
• Additional Information: The attracts between 18,500 and 22,000 (maximum limit) swimmers to a beautifully tranquil lake at 760 meters (2,493 feet) in altitude, including an increasing number of foreign athletes.

2. Midmar Mile

17,000 entrants in the Midmar Mile, in Sout Africa

• Location: Midmar Damin Kwazulu Natal in South Africa (one-hour drive from Durban).
• Course: Straight point-to-point race across Midmar Dam.
• Distance: 1 mile
• Date: Second Sunday weekend in February
• Description: The world’s largest competitive open water swimming event also has an associated a series of qualification swims throughout South Africa.
• Additional Information: Attracts swimmers of all ages and abilities, ranging from Olympic medalists to swimmers between the ages of 5 and 83. The event has recently attracted more than 17,000 entrants, a huge increase from the inaugural event in 1974 when 153 swimmers raced across the dam for the first time. Due to the large number of entrants, the swimmers are separated into 8 different races; each race is divided into 5 batches separated by 3-minute intervals; each batch wears a different colored cap to distinguish their batch. A chip timing system was introduced in 2008 to record accurate times for each participant.

3. Vansbrosimningen

The winners of Vansbrosimningen

• Location: Vansbro in central Sweden
• Course: River swim under the six bridges of Vansbro.
• Distance: 3K
• Date: July
• Description: Over 4,000 swimmers participate in the largest open water swim in northern Europe Vansbrosimningen with another 2,250 women participating in the 1K Tjeisimmet (race for women only).
• Additional Information: Envisioned in 1950 with 10 swimmers in the first attempt, Vansbrosimningen became a national race in 1956 and has been growing ever since, especially when the “En Svensk Klassiker” was added in 1972. Over the past 53 years, one woman, Margareta Rylander, was the fastest overall finisher.

4. Sea of Galilee Swim
• Location: Sea of Galilee in Israel.
• Course: A challenging and extremely popular channel swim with over 750 support boats
• Distance: 4K
• Date: October
• Description: A mass participation event, the largest in the Middle East that can get rough if winds come up.
• Additional Information: Attracts over 6,000 swimmers of all ages and abilities, an incredible 0.1% of the entire population in Israel. The swim was first held in 1944, two years before Israel was formed, and has continued nearly uninterrupted ever since.

5. British Gas Great North Swim

Lake Windermere (click to enlarge)

• Location: picturesque Lake Windermere, the largest lake in England, in the Lake District.
• Course: a 1-mile in-and-out-and-in course in a flat, scenic, but cold, lake.
• Distance: 1 mile
• Date: September
• Description: A very competitive race with several Olympic swimmers as well as the largest mass participation open water swim in Great Britain. Separate start for elite swimmers. Race requires swimmers to exit the water at the halfway mark for a run over timing mats in order to entertain the television audience.
• Additional Information: A 2-day open water swimming extravaganza that will draw up to 20,000 in its third year. Wetsuits are acceptable. Part of the British Gas Great Swim Series that includes the British Gas East Swim, the British Gas Great London Swim and the British Gas Great Scottish Swim.

6. Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim 2010 (Boğazıçi Kitalararasi Yarislari)
• Location: Istanbul Strait that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara in Turkey.
• Course: From Meis to Kas in a narrow channel.
• Distance: 6.5K
• Date: July
• Description: Organized by the National Olympic Committee of Turkey and started in 1989 with 68 swimmers, the Bosphorus has recently grown to 4,892 swimmers from dozens of countries – see photo on page 1
• Additional Information: Bosphorus is the world’s most narrow strait used for international navigation and enables participants to claim they swam between Asia and Europe.

7. Lorne Pier-to-Pub Swim 

... and those are the Lifeguards! (click to enlarge)

• Location: Lorne, Australia.
• Course: Fast pier-to-beach swim.
• Distance: 1.2K
• Date: January
• Description: Mixed field of swimmers with an average time of 22 minutes.
• Additional Information: Started as a challenge between lifeguards in 1981 when 100 people entered the first race. The race is now capped at 4,300 participants and is known as a very successful charity event.

8. Rottnest Channel Swim 

this one is a classic... and on my to-do list!

• Location: From Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island, near Perth, in Western Australia.
• Course: A challenging and extremely popular channel swim with over 750 support boats.
• Distance: 19.2K
• Date: February
• Description: Strong currents, abundant marine life, water temperature averages 21-22°C (69.8-71.6°F)
• Additional Information: Attracts swimmers between the ages of 14 to 72. The Rottnest Channel Swim informally began in 1987 when four men in their forties, sustained by water and bread, swam the channel. The following year, 12 people made the swim. By 2006, an online entry process was introduced where the number of entries for 2- and 4-person teams and solo swimmers was open for 7 days, attracting 3,910 entries. An electronic random ballot was then conducted to determine which 2,300 swimmers would participate. Solo swimmers receive an automatic entry; solo entries close on November 30th. Entries open the first working day in November and are only open for 7 days.

9. Cole Classic
• Location: Manly Beach in Australia.
• Course: Ocean course
• Distance: 1K Novice Challenge and 2K
• Date: January
• Description: Started in 1983 with 101 swimmers with the Waikiki Roughwater Swim as an initial inspiration, the Cole Classic has grown to nearly 3,000 swimmers.
• Additional Information: Also an online fundraising opportunity through EveryDay Hero.

10. La Jolla Rough Water Swim 

can't go too far wrong... it's in San Diego!

• Location: La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California, U.S.A., just north of San Diego.
• Course: Beach start and finish in and around the cold-water La Jolla Cove, which is a natural amphitheater for ocean swims.
• Distance: 250 yards, 1 mile and the 3-mile Gatorman Swim
• Date: September
• Description: Multi-distance event where many of the most accomplished open water swimmers from across the western American states compete. Marine life and kelp are abundant. Water clarity is among the best along the West Coast. Water temperature can be in the low 60°F’s.
• Additional Information: Started in 1916, it is billed as America’s Premier Rough Water Swim and nicknamed The Big Wet One. Event started in 1916 when 7 men swam 1.7 miles in the beautiful La Jolla Cove. By 1925, 8 men and 11 women swam the race. By 1950, 105 swimmers entered. In 1984, over 1,000 swimmers entered. In 2008, 2,297 swimmers participated, but since 1999, a limit was placed on the number of swimmers in order to maintain the high standards of the organizing committee.

11. Descenso a Nado de la Ria de Navia (Navia’s Downstream Swim)
• Location: River Navia in Spain.
• Course: Swim downstream in a picturesque river.
• Distance: 1.1K (under 12 years old), 1.7K (13-15 years old), 3Ks (women) and 5K (men)
• Date: August
• Description: Started in 1958 when 14 swimmers swam 1 kilometer in a coastal village in Asturias, Galicia in northern Spain.
• Additional Information: Also serves as an official leg of the LEN Open Water Swimming Cup that attracts the top swimmers throughout Europe.

12. Rei do Mar Desafio (King of the Sea Challenge)
• Location: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
• Course: rectangular loop course in one of the world’s most famous beaches
• Distance: 2K for amateurs, 10K for professionals
• Date: December
• Description: Same loop course that will be used for the 2016 Rio Olympics with gigantic turn buoy and a festive start and finish area.

13. Xstrata Nickel Swim Thru Perth

Bonaire Eco Swim... one of the most beautiful swims in the world!

• Location: Perth, Australia.
• Course: Picturesque Swam River, finishing in Matilda Bay.
• Distance: 2.2 kilometers and 4K kilometers.
• Date: January.
• Description: A great community event that attracts a wide mix of swimmers of all abilities and ages ranging from 10 to 83 years old.
• Additional Information: Oldest open water swimming race in Australia with over a 90-year history that serves as a fund-raiser to the Paraplegic-Quadriplegic Association of Western Australia.

14. Bonaire EcoSwim
• Location: Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire in the Netherland Antilles, 50 miles north of Venezuela, 30 miles from Curacao and 86 miles east of Aruba, outside of the hurricane belt.
• Course: start and finish at Captain Don’s Habitat dock, along the coast of Bonaire. Water stops are available for the 5K and 10K races.
• Distance: Kid’s pier-to-pier swim, 1K (with and without fins), 2K x 2-person relay, 3K (with and without fins), 5K and 10K swims.
• Date: December
• Description: Swim over pristine coral reefs amid beautiful marine life in crystal-clear warm waters.
• Additional Information: Scuba Diving Magazine (January 2008 issue) rated Bonaire #1 as the world’s Top Dive Destination and Top Marine Life.

15. Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 
• Location: New York City, U.S.A.
• Course: Complete counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, starting and finishing near Wall Street in view of the Statue of Liberty.
• Distance: 28.5 miles
• Date: June
• Description: Field is limited to 25 solo swimmers and 18 relay teams that start and finish at Battery Park City. Fields sells out in less than 45 minutes. Race first held in 1927. Substantial surface chop and strong tidal pull are possible. Water temperature varies between 17 – 19°C (64 – 67°F). Course may also include random jetsam and flotsam. A Qualifying Swim must be completed before application will be accepted.
• Additional Information: This is the premier event of the NYC Swim that also conducts 8 other open water events and has attracted nearly 10,000 participants in more than 110 events, including the 1.3-mile Lady Liberty Swim in May, the 1-mile Park to Park Swim in June, the 2-mile Governors Island Swim in June that always sells out, the 1.5-kilometer Riverside Park Tune Up Swim in July, the 1-kilometer Brooklyn Bridge Swim in September that always sells out, 5.85-mile Little Red Lighthouse Swim in September, and the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim in October that always sells out and the professional 10K NYC Pro Swim.

Coming down the Hudson!
I know I'm biased... but this really is one of the great swims in the world!
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I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri's too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn't quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!


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