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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

List Of Butterfly Swims In The Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

While it takes male Olympic open water swimmers 1 hour 50 minutes to complete 6.2 miles of swimming in flat-water conditions, it takes a world-class male 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.

But while runners run in the open terrain, swimmers can do butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle in the open water.

And butterfly is the stroke in the open water that most intrigues and fascinates us. Because it remains so extraordinarily difficult to do in the open water. It takes power. It takes guts. It takes strength from the shoulders to the abs. It is dramatic as the body is propelled out and forward in the water. Without a doubt, butterfly is the most unforgiving and difficult of all swimming techniques, both in the pool and in the open water.

Brian Suddeth, a butterflying open water aficionado, did some calculations on his fellow butterflyers. Based on his calculations below are some of the speediest distance butterflyers in the world and how fast they are in miles per hour (mph) in various swims around the globe. "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 open water butterflyers can only swim 3.61 miles. In other words, the world-class runners can traverse a distance 6.23 times as far as world class butterfly open water swimmers," explains Suddeth. "At the bottom line, it seems to me that when doing butterfly in the open water, the target distance for a "marathon class" swim is more like 5 kilometers by speed and effort based on the performances of the very best."

Sample of Fast Butterfly Open Water Swims

1. Julie Bradshaw: 3.01 mph (4.85 kph) in 2011 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, 28.5 miles (45.8 km) in 9:28
2. Héctor Ramírez Ballesteros: 2.67 mph (4.29 kph) at the 2012 Ria de Navia, 3.11 miles (5 km) in 1:10
3. Dan Projansky: 2.45 mph (3.95 kph) at the 2013 Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, 27 miles (43 km) in 14:30
4. Sylvain Estadieu: 2.31 mph (3.72 kph) at the 2013 Lee Swim, 1.24 miles (2 km) in 0:32:28
5. Gianni Golini: 2.30 mph (3.71 kph) in Strait of Messina in 1977, 1.99 miles (3.2 km) in 51:49
6. Sylvain Estadieu: 1.95 mph (3.13 kph) in Baltic Sea in 2010, 3.73 miles (6 km) in 1:55
7. Sylvain Estadieu: 1.94 mph (3.12 kph) in 2012 Lake Delsjön in Gothenburg (German lake), 3.11 miles (5 km) in 1:36
8. Gianni Golini: 1.93 mph (3.11 kph) in Strait of Messina - 2XM in 1977, 4.50 miles (6.5 km) in 2:23:56
9. Dan Projansky: 1.86 mph (3.00 kph) in 2012 Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, 27 miles (43 km) in 14:30
10. Sylvain Estadieu: 1.86 mph (2.99 kph) in Sandycove Island in 2013, 13.92 miles (22.4 km) in 7:30
11. Julie Bradshaw: 1.85 mph (2.97 kph) in Lough Erne in 2006, 10.50 miles (16.89 km) in 5:41
12. Héctor Ramírez Ballesteros: 1.83 mph (2.94 kph) in Ruidera in 2012, 5.78 miles (9.3 km) in 3:01
13. Graham Barratt: 1.82 mph (2.93 kph) in Lake Bala in 1992, 3.25 miles (5.23 km) in 1:47
14. Francesca Mazari: 1.73 mph (2.79 kph) in the 1992 Strait of Messina - 2XF, 4.50 miles (6.5 km) in 2:36:34
15. Héctor Ramírez Ballesteros: 1.72 mph (2.77 kph) in Iruelas Valley in 2012, 5.59 miles (9 km) in 3:15
16. Julie Bradshaw: 1.72 mph (2.76 kph) in Lake Windermere in 1991, 10.50 miles (16.9 km) in 6:07.3
17. Julie Bradshaw: 1.68 mph (2.71 kph) in Coniston in 1995, 5.25 miles (8.44 km) in 3:07
18. Sylvain Estadieu: 1.67 mph (2.69 kph) in lake Delsjön in 2013, 13.36 miles (21.5 km) in 8:00
19. Vicki Keith: 1.67 mph (2.68 kph) in Sydney Harbour, 22.50 miles (36.21 km) in 13:30
20. Julie Bradshaw: 1.62 mph (2.60 kph) in Ullswater in 1996, 7.25 miles (11.66 km) in 4:29
21. Héctor Ramírez Ballesteros: 1.61 mph (2.59 kph) in the 2012 International Crossing 10,000 Cullera, 6.21 miles (10 km) in 3:52
22. Kathryn Mason: 1.59 mph (2.56 kph) at the 2012 Irish Long Distance Championship in Lough Erne, Ireland, 15.53 miles (25 km) in 9:45
23. Julie Bradshaw: 1.48 mph (2.37 kph) across the English Channel in 2002, 21 miles (33.7 km) in 14:18
24. Vicki Keith: 1.43 mph (2.30 kph) in Lake Winnipeg, 18.57 miles (28.9 km) in 13:00
25. Vicki Keith: 1.42 mph (2.29 kph) across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 19.88 miles (32 km) in 14:00
26. Brian Suddeth: 1.41 mph (2.26 kph) in the 2011 Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, 1 mile (1.60 km) in 42:46
27. Brian Suddeth: 1.40 mph (2.25 kph) in 2011 Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, 1 mile (1.60 km) in 43:00
28. Vicki Keith: 1.37 mph (2.21 kph) across the Catalina Channel in 1989, 20.2 miles (32.5 km) in 14:43.3
29. Brenton Williams: 1.35 mph (2.17 kph) in the 2012 Deep Blue Invitational Swim, 4.97 miles (8 km) in 3:41
30. Sylvain Estadieu: 1.29 mph (2.08 kph) across Lake Vidöstern in 2012, 8.39 miles (13.5 km) in 6:30
31. Julie Bradshaw: 1.26 mph (2.03 kph) swam a Coniston 2-Way in 2000, 11 miles (17.70 km) in 8:42
32. Sylvain Estadieu: 1.26 mph (2.03 kph) across the English Channel in 2013, 21 miles (33.7 km) in 16:41
33. Philip Martin: 1.25 mph (2.02 kph) in a 2001 Rottnest Channel, 12.24 miles (19.7 km) in 9:45.1
34. Julie Bradshaw: 1.22 mph (1.96 kph) across Lake Bala in 2006, 6.50 miles (10.46 km) in 5:02
35. Vicki Keith: 1.03 mph (1.66 kph) across Lake Ontario, 32 miles (51.5 km) in 31:00
36. Vicki Keith: 0.96 mph (1.54 kph) across the English Channel, 21 miles (33.7 km) in 23:33
37. Vicki Keith: 0.78 mph (1.26 kph) across Lake Ontario, 49.83 miles (80.2 km) in 63:40

The average speed for all these butterflyers is 1.64 mph (2.64 kph). Impressive, very very impressive.

Data courtesy of Brian Suddeth.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association


  1. hi everyone; i`m robin lajoie from hamilton on. canada. we have 1,3,5 and 10k open water swim in welland on. near niagara falls. in 2012 i did the 10k fly in 4:18hrs. this year,2014 idid the 10k fly in 4hrs 35 secs. i`m ready to try lake ontario, maybe 2015. my email is robinlajoiemusic@yahoo.com. any advice out there for me. thanks.-- robin--

  2. Hi Robin, I am Pawel Walczyk from Phoenix. 10k fly, what a feat.....I hope to do that distance one day This May I'll be doing 3k fly in Lake Pleasant here in Arizona. I did 2k fly races here a few times but so far the toughest for me was 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Alcatraz, fly, now wetsuit, hypothermia on finish line after 65 minutes. I'll be swiiming under Golden Gate Bridge May 21 this year. Would be nice to meet you and have a butterfly buddy in the open water. My email pwalczyk@cox.net , cheers


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