Iconic Marathon Swims

A curated series of iconic swims that capture the spirit and challenge of unassisted marathon swimming.

Annual Events

The following 25 swims are currently active annual marathon events, selected on the basis of longevity and/or popularity, natural routes, and adherence to the rules and spirit of traditional marathon swimming.

  • Events are usually open to qualified amateur swimmers. We have included a few historically significant professional events (annotated as pro), which may have limited availability to amateurs.
  • A few events are slightly shorter than the standard minimum of 10 km.
  • If swim aids (wetsuits) are allowed, organizers must list them in a separate category.
Iconic marathon swims - annual events
Swim Km Since Location Field
Boston Light Swim 13 1907 Massachusetts, USA 30
Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli 36 1954 Naples, Italy 29 pro
Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean 32 1955 Quebec, Canada 20 pro
Rottnest Channel Swim 20 1956 Perth, Australia 376
BLDSA Windermere 17 1958 England 18
BLDSA Torbay 13 1958 England 23
BLDSA Loch Lomond 35 1959 Scotland 6
Ohrid Lake Marathon 30 1962 Macedonia 15 pro
Travessia 14 Bis 24 1970 Bertioga, Brazil 272
IJsselmeer Zwemmarathon 22 1970 The Netherlands 15
Toroneos Gulf Marathon 25 1971 Nikiti, Greece 20
Faros Marathon Swim 16 1976 Stari Grad, Croatia 30 pro
Swim Around Key West 20 1977 Florida, USA 93
Semana Nautica 6-Mile Ocean Swim 9 1979 California, USA 54
El Cruce 9 1980 Cancun, Mexico 537
20 Bridges (pka Manhattan Island Marathon Swim) 46 1982 New York, USA 60
Lake Zurich Marathon Swim 26 1987 Zurich, Switzerland 26
Swim Across the Sound 25 1989 Connecticut, USA 8
Messenian Gulf Swim 30 1990 Kalamata, Greece 15
Tampa Bay Marathon Swim 37 1999 Florida, USA 5
South Head Roughwater 10 2002 Sydney, Australia 75
Swim the Suck 16 2010 Tennessee, USA 105
In Search of Memphre 40 2011 VT, USA / QC, Can. 5
8 Bridges Hudson River Swim various 2011 New York, USA 20
SCAR Swim Challenge various 2012 Arizona, USA 50

Sanctioned Solo Swims

The following 20 swims are solo routes governed by an established local sanctioning organization. Marathon swim sanction orgs provide planning assistance, independent observers, a well-defined ratification process, and an authoritative history of successful swims.

Iconic sanctioned solo marathon swims
Swim Total First Sanction Organization (founded)
English Channel 2240 1875 Channel Swimming Assocation (1927)
North Channel 57 1947 Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (1966)
Round Jersey 120 1969 Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club (1974)
Jersey to France 62 1966 Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club (1974)
Lake Ontario 72 1954 Solo Swims of Ontario (1975)
Catalina Channel 542 1927 Catalina Channel Swimming Federation (1981)
Strait of Gibraltar 616 1928 Asociación de Cruce a Nado del Estrecho de Gibraltar (1999)
Fehmarnbelt 29 1939 Beltquerung (2001)
Cook Strait 115 1962 Cook Strait Swimming Association (2003)
Santa Barbara Channel 91 1978 Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (2006)
Tsugaru Strait 28 1990 Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association (2008)
Menorca Channel 14 1968 Menorca Channel Swimming Association (2012)
Cape Cod Bay 9 1968 Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (2012)
Lake Erie 19 1975 Lake Erie Open Water Swimming Association (2012)
Lake Constance (Bodensee) 48 2012 Bodenseequerung (2012)
Strait of Juan de Fuca 8 1955 Northwest Open Water Swimming Association (2015)
Monterey Bay 4 1980 Monterey Bay Swimming Association (2015)
Lake Geneva 6 1986 Lake Geneva Swimming Association (2015)
Leme to Pontal 8 2015 Leme to Pontal Swimming Association (2016)
Cruce Rio de la Plata 27 1923 Asociación Cruce a Nado Río de la Plata (2017)

Recorded/Unregulated Solo Swims

The following 10 swims are established solo routes for which a fairly complete record of previous swims is available, but which are otherwise unregulated and lack the resources and processes of a full sanctioning organization. For example, typically swimmers must arrange their own observers for these swims. Links are provided below to the unofficial recorders.

Iconic solo marathon swim routes - recorded/unregulated
Swim Total First Recorder
Bristol Channel 17 1927 British Long Distance Swimming Association
Northumberland Strait 28 1951 Jen Alexander
Lake Tahoe 50 1955 Dave Van Mouwerik
Lake George 11 1958 Bob Singer
Hawaiian Islands (9 channels) ~400 1961 Carl Kawauchi
Loch Ness 21 1966 British Long Distance Swimming Association
Gulf of the Farallones 5 1967 Phil Cutti
Strait of Georgia 11 1967 Masters Swimming Assoc of British Columbia
Angel Island (San Francisco Bay) 11 1984 Evan Morrison
Lake Taupo 46 1985 Anna Marshall