Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Various kinds of limitations have been placed on women throughout Olympic athletic history.

For example, up until the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, women only swam the 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke while men were allowed to do the 200m butterfly and 200m backstroke. Only starting at the 1968 Mexico City Games were women allowed to swim the 200m pool events.

Likewise in athletics, while the marathon run debuted at the 1896 Athens Games, the longest race for women up until the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics was 1500m. Only starting at the 1984 Los Angeles Games were women allowed to compete in the marathon run.

This is why the 2008 Beijing Olympics were a really watershed moment in aquatic and sporting history – when both men and women were equally judged by the IOC to be able to compete – and compete well – in a marathon swim of 10 kilometers.

Photo shows silver medalist Keri-Anne Payne, gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko and bronze medalist Cassandra Patten at the 2008 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Beijing.

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