DNOWS Header

Image Map

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Marathon Swimming versus Marathon Running

When the Night Train Swimmers begin their 228-mile (367 km) ocean swimming relay from Santa Barbara's Gaviota State Park to Coronado, south of San Diego, they will be swimming concurrently while some of the world's best ultra-marathon runners simultaneously run more than 300 miles down the coast. The ultra marathon runners will meet up with their marathon swimming colleagues to celebrate their charity event on behalf of the Navy SEALS Foundation.

An interesting question was raised: Who has a tougher job, the marathon swimming relay or the ultra-marathon runners?

It depends how you look at it. From the perspective of the runners, the land-based athletes might analyze the comparison like this:

While it takes world-class swimmers 1 hour 50 minutes to complete 6.2 miles of swimming in flat-water conditions, it takes a world-class runner 1 hour 50 minutes to complete 22.5 miles of running in good conditions (at a 2:08 pace).

Therefore, at the highest echelon of the endurance running and swimming world, the world's greatest marathon runners can run 22.5 miles while the world's greatest marathon swimmers can only swim 6.2 miles. In other words, the world-class runners can traverse a distance 3.6 times as far as a world-class swimmer.

So theoretically, if each of the swimmers does one-sixth of the 228-mile distance of the Night Train Swimmers, then each swimmer only swims a total of 38 miles. This equates roughly to 136.8 miles on land. But the runners, in this case down the coast of California, are running more than twice as far in a faster time.

So from this perspective, the runners are outdoing their aquatic colleagues.

From the swimmer's perspective in contrast, there is no comparison for a few reasons:

1. Man is a land-based mammal that was meant to walk/jog/run. Human bodies are not built for aquatic endeavors.
2. Swimming is more technically difficult than running for a large percentage of the human race.
3. Running is relatively easier, especially as the distances increase. If we think of all the people in human history who have walked/jogged/run/biked 24 hours straight, there are multitudes of these people, even if they have slowed down to a crawl. However, throughout human history, there is only a handful of people who have swum 24 hours straight (e.g., the members of the 24-hour Club.
4. A swimmer can easily imagine how tough it is to run a marathon. They can imagine the training necessary and the pain that is ultimately involved. But a runner cannot easily imagine how tough it is to swim 26 miles, especially against currents or in extreme conditions/water temperatures. The perspective of seeing nothing, hearing nothing, smelling nothing, saying nothing with your head down for hours on end in the cold, rough water is something that must be experienced first-hand to be understood.

So from this perspective, the swimmer's job is much more difficult than the runners.

In our humble opinion.

Note: The Nighttrain228 relay will begin on August 22nd.

The Night Train Swimmers (Vito Bialla (shown above), Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, Grace van der Byl, and Walter Bean Scott) will attempt to swim 228 mile (367 km) down the California coast while ultra-marathon runners David Goggins and Mike Trevino will run 300+ miles during the same time.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program