Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

We believe and forecast that the sport of open water swimming and all its various niche areas (channel swimming, professional marathon swimming, ice swimming, relays, ocean racing, biathlons, triathlons, extreme adventure racing, excursion swimming, expedition swimming, sea trekking, swim trekking, wild swimming, high-altitude swimming, yacht swimming, lifeguard competitions, obstacle course open water swimming, and swim holidays) will continue to grow globally in terms of participants, events and offerings.

The reasons why are as follows:

* Everyone in the world knows about the open bodies of water nearest them, although they may not have a pool or know of the closest swimming pool to them.

* It is estimated that fewer than 2.5% of humans can swim 500 meters in an open body of water. The potential for growth in the sport is tremendous.

* In 1999, there were fewer than 1,000 established open water swims in the world. In 2016, there are over 12,500 open water swims including over an estimated 400 marathon swims (10 km+) in the world

* The average woman is faster than the average man in open water swims at least 5 km in distance, whether in freshwater or saltwater, warm water or cold water in a survey conducted at 5 open water swimming events in 5 continents

* 23 different countries qualify specialists in the Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim – a much broader global scope of the most elite swimmers relative to pool swimming

* New open water swims are being added to the swimming calendars at a pace faster than one new event per day

* The addition of neoprene has led to significant increase in the number of people joining the open water swimming and triathlon communities

* Benefits of swimming for the entire body (strength, stamina, range of motion, emotional well-being) are well-known and well-documented, which is especially important as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age and the ravages of running and extreme resistance platforms like CrossFit take their toll on participants

* Open water swims are conducted in 187 nations around the world and, increasingly, in more and more exotic and extreme locations

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association