The Olympic marathon swim and the Olympic marathon swim both showcase some of the best and fastest endurance athletes in the world.

While the marathon run has a long history and (the men’s race) is featured on last day of the Olympic Games, the marathon swim was introduced at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a rowing basin and will be featured in the Serpentine in London.

How do these two marathon extravaganzas compare?


Marathon Run: 42.195 kilometers

Marathon Swim: 10 kilometers

Predicted Winning Times:

Marathon Run: 2:05 – 2:10 for men; 2:20 – 2:25 for women

Marathon Swim: 1:50-1:55 for men; 1:58 – 2:05 for women


Marathon Run: Passes many of London’s most famous landmarks (Mall, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace)

Marathon Swim: Held in the Serpentine in Hyde Park

Sample Rules:

Marathon Run: Water shall be provided at intervals of no more than 5km. Runners who collect refreshment from a place other than a water station is liable to disqualification.

Marathon Swim: Impeding another swimmer is grounds for a warning, a yellow flag or a red flag (immediate disqualification). Two yellow flags equals a red flag. Swimmers can carry refreshment in their swimsuits.

Split Timing:

Marathon Run: Split times are recorded at the midway point and at 5km intervals

Marathon Swim: Split times are recorded after each loop


Marathon Run: Altitude differential between the start and end of the marathon cannot be greater than 0.1% of 42.195 km

Marathon Swim: 6 loops near the perimeter of the Serpentine


Marathon Run: Each runner is allowed 1 false start. A second false start leads to a disqualification. Runners must stand and cannot touch the ground at the start.

Marathon Swim: A false start can be yellow carded. Swimmers must stand at the floating pontoon at the start without a running start.


Marathon Run: Runners must be a bid with their country code and race number

Marathon Swim: Swimmers must wear a swim cap with their country code


Marathon Run: Runners can wear a variety of shoes, socks, hats, glasses, watches and running gear

Marathon Swim: Swimmers cannot wear anything beyond their shoulders or that provides them with insulation or buoyancy


Marathon Run: Runners finish by crossing the plane of the finish

Marathon Swim: Swimmers finish by touching the finish pads with their hands


Marathon Run: August 5th (women) and August 12th (men)

Marathon Swim: August 9th (women) and August 10th (men)

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source