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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Just How Old Are Open Water Swimmers?

Who are open water swimmers? How old are they? What are the demographics of the sport?

We took a look at the make-up of the open water swimmers at two popular mass participation races: the 2.8 km State Harbour Crossing in Auckland of the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Honolulu, Hawaii.

One is a swim in cold water where neoprene reigns; the other is a swim in tropically warm water where bioprene is the norm. One is in the Southern Hemisphere; the other is in the Northern Hemisphere. So this tiny sampling of the open water swimming community may give a hint as to what the open water swimming possibly looks like in reality.

Among the 1,413 participants of the State Harbour Crossing:

* The average age was 36.54 years old with a median age of 37.

* 35.3% of the swimmers were female and 65.7% were male.

* The age groups consisted of the following percentages:

Women 0-14 years: 2.9% of the total
Women 15-19 years: 3.4%
Women 20-29 years: 6.7%
Women 30-39 years: 9.6%
Women 40-49 years: 8.1%
Women 50-59 years: 3.6%
Women 60-69 years: 0.5%
Women 70-99 years: 0.1%

Men 0-14 years: 2.5% of the total
Men 15-19 years: 3.9%
Men 20-29 years: 8.9%
Men 30-39 years: 18.0%
Men 40-49 years: 19.6%
Men 50-59 years: 8.5%
Men 60-69 years: 2.4%
Men 70-99 years: 0.5%

The Waikiki Roughwater Swim, with about 400 fewer swimmers, had some not-surprisingly similar data:

* 35.5% of the swimmers were female and 65.5% were male.

* The age groups consisted of the following percentages:

Women 0-14 years: 3.7% of the total
Women 15-18 years: 3.9%
Women 19-29 years: 5.6%
Women 30-39 years: 8.9%
Women 40-49 years: 6.5%
Women 50-59 years: 4.9%
Women 60-69 years: 1.5%
Women 70-99 years: 0.4%

Men 0-14 years: 3.5% of the total
Men 15-18 years: 3.2%
Men 19-29 years: 7.0%
Men 30-39 years: 13.4%
Men 40-49 years: 17.5%
Men 50-59 years: 14.3%
Men 60-69 years: 4.2%
Men 70-99 years: 1.0%

Photo of 18-year-old Emma Robinson at the State Capital Classic of the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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