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A new world

Marathon Swimming

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A 10km race in open-water, this is another adventure sport. It entered the Olympic Games at Beijing 2008, as part of the swimming programme. But in Rio, at Copacabana beach, it is a discipline on its own, with men’s and women’s competitions.
Spectator's Guide - Marathon Swimming
  • Marathon Swimming

Countries

Athletes

Events

29 51 2

Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

Marathon Swimming

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August21
Date Event Status

About

About

Aim of the game

Competitors race over a 10km open-water circuit, with the first swimmer to strike the touch pad at the finish line winning the race

Why should you watch this?

Marathon swimming is a bona-fide test of strength, strategy and endurance, and at the Rio 2016 Games, it will take place against the beautiful backdrop of Copacabana beach

International Federation

Olympic debut

Beijing 2008

Rules
  • Finish funnel

    Finish funnel

    Part of the course just before the finish where buoys and lane lines are used to guide the swimmers towards the finish line

  • Choppy

    Choppy

    Term used to describe conditions when wind causes lots of waves that can affect the swimmers' performance

  • Photo finish

    Photo finish

    When two or more swimmers finish very close together, images from high-speed cameras are used to determine who touched first

Impress your friends

  • Rock paintings and mythological references show that in prehistoric times, people learned to swim in open waters

    Rock paintings and mythological references show that in prehistoric times, people learned to swim in open waters

  • Englishman Matthew Webb pioneered marathon swimming in 1875, as the first person to swim the English Channel, completing the 34km in 21 hours 45 mins

    Englishman Matthew Webb pioneered marathon swimming in 1875, as the first person to swim the English Channel, completing the 34km in 21 hours 45 mins

  • The 10km marathon swim was first introduced to the Olympic programme at the Beijing 2008 Games

    The 10km marathon swim was first introduced to the Olympic programme at the Beijing 2008 Games

  • London 2012 saw a dramatic finale to the women's race when Eva Risztov, from Hungary, beat American Haley Anderson by four-tenths of a second

    London 2012 saw a dramatic finale to the women's race when Eva Risztov, from Hungary, beat American Haley Anderson by four-tenths of a second

  • Also in 2012, 16-year-old Benjamin Schulte (Guam) received a standing ovation after battling through the pain barrier to finish almost 14 minutes behind the winner

    Also in 2012, 16-year-old Benjamin Schulte (Guam) received a standing ovation after battling through the pain barrier to finish almost 14 minutes behind the winner

  • Germany's Thomas Lurz is the only athlete to win two marathon swimming medals: bronze at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012

    Germany's Thomas Lurz is the only athlete to win two marathon swimming medals: bronze at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012

  • Hungarian veteran Eva Risztov retired from the pool in 2004 before making a comeback in open water and winning the London 2012 title

    Hungarian veteran Eva Risztov retired from the pool in 2004 before making a comeback in open water and winning the London 2012 title

  • Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli was the 1st to win pool and open water medals at the same Games when he won marathon swimming gold and 1500m bronze in London

    Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli was the 1st to win pool and open water medals at the same Games when he won marathon swimming gold and 1500m bronze in London

  • Olympic marathon swimming is usually staged in beautiful locations: Shunyi Park at Beijing 2008, Hyde Park at London 2012 and Copacabana beach at Rio 2016

    Olympic marathon swimming is usually staged in beautiful locations: Shunyi Park at Beijing 2008, Hyde Park at London 2012 and Copacabana beach at Rio 2016

Format

Both the men’s and women’s events feature 25 swimmers who set off in a ‘mass start’. The Rio 2016 course will comprise a circuit, with a minimum depth of 1.4m, marked by buoys that competitors must swim around.

Swimmers are marked with their number for identification and a microchip bracelet on their wrists to record their time. Any swimmer without their chip at the end is disqualified.

The finish line is marked by a touch panel, at least 5m wide, which is suspended above the water. Swimmers must touch this panel to record their arrival.

Officials

A team of six time keepers and finish judges are divided between the pontoon and a boat on the opposite side of the finish line. They record the finishing order and provide back-up timings.

Safety

Officials on boats follow the swimmers along the course to monitor the race and ensure that competitors are safe. The water temperature is checked two hours before the race and must be between 16ºC and 31ºC.

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
ger
Thomas Lurz
0 1 1 2
ned
Maarten van der Weijden
1 0 0 1
tun
Ossama Mellouli
1 0 0 1
Women
rus
Larisa Ilchenko
1 0 0 1
hun
Eva Risztov
1 0 0 1
gbr
Kerri-Anne Payne
0 1 0 1

Countries

Athletes

Athletes & Teams

Gender

Gender
Woman 51
Men 49
Women
Men

Age Range

Age Range
Under 15 0
16 - 20 10
21 - 25 43
26 - 30 27
31 - 40 20
Over 40 0
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