DNOWS Header

Image Map

Friday, May 8, 2015

How Men And Women Compare In Open Water Swimming

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The comparison against men and women in the open water is always an interesting exercise, especially since women are on average historically faster than men in the English Channel.

The top 3 men in the world in the 50m freestyle in the pool are 11.7% faster than the top women.

The top 3 men in the world in the 800m freestyle in the pool are 8.4% faster than the top women.

The top 3 men in the world in the 1 km ice swim are 12.3% faster than the top women.

The winning men on the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit are consistently on average 7% faster than the winning women.

The top 3 men in the Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim (2008 and 2012) were about 6.8% faster than the top women.

But what happens on the amateur level?

We looked at the results of Day Two at the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge, a 14.4 km (9-mile) race in Canyon Lake where 41 of the 41 solo marathon swimmers finished for a 100% success rate.

21 men with an average age of 46.6 years finished with an average time of 4:45.23. In contrast, 20 women with an average age of 47.7 years finished with an average time of 4:45.29.

Not only were the ages of these swimmers remarkably close, the average time was stunningly close with only 6 tenths of a second separately the sexes over 4 hours 45 minutes of racing.

Note: the women's average time would have undoubtedly been a bit faster if Elizabeth Fry [shown above] would have only swum a one leg of Canyon Lake instead of swimming two laps of the 14.4 km course. For calculation purposes, we divided Fry's time in half, but her one-way time would have certainly helped the women's average time be faster.

What is remarkable is that the sport of open water swimming is rapidly shifting to be much more female compared to the sport in the 20th century and the sport is shifting older. Imagine that the average age of a 4-day 41.7-miles (66.9 km) stage swim if 47 years old. That fact in itself is a testament to the aging of the sport. But aging, in the case of the sport of open water swimming, does not imply a weakness or reduction of performance.

Rather as the participants age, it appears that they are also getting faster and stronger and more capable of swimming further. Open water swimming is a sport and an athletic pursuit like no other.

Day One results from Saguaro Lake are here. Day Two results from Canyon Lake are here.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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