Marathon Swimming Records

There are three categories of records in open water swimming and marathon swimming: distance records, course records, and firsts.

Distance Records

What is the longest distance swum in an ocean? Longest swim in a lake? Longest swim in a river? Distance records are categorized by:

  • Body of water: ocean, lake, or river.
  • Surface currents: current-neutral or current-aided.
  • Route type: nonstop or multi-segment.

For full details, see the Longest Swims list at LongSwimsDB.

Current Neutral Swims


The longest lake swim - and longest overall, unassisted, current-neutral open water swim - is Sarah Thomas’ 168.3 km (104.6-mile) swim in Lake Champlain in 2017.

The longest ocean swim is Chloe McCardel’s 124.4 km (77.3-mile) swim in the Bahamas in 2015.


The longest multi-segment ocean swim is the 101.4 km (63 mile) three-way English Channel crossing, completed by Jon Erikson (1981), Philip Rush (1987), Alison Streeter (1990), and Chloe McCardel (2015).

The longest multi-segment lake swim is the 95 km (59-mile) two-way Lake Ontario crossing by Vicki Keith in 1987.

Current-Aided Swims

The longest ocean swim aided by surface currents is Veljko Rogosic’s 194 km (120.5-mile) swim across the Adriatic Sea in 2006.

The longest river swim is Ricardo Hoffman’s 481 km (299-mile) swim in the Rio Parana in 1981.

Course Records

A course record is the fastest swim along a specific open water route. For example, the English Channel (one-way) course record is held by Trent Grimsey of Australia - 6 hours, 55 minutes.

First Swims

A “first” is the first person (or first woman, or first man) to swim a specific open water route. For example, Matthew Webb was the first person to swim across the English Channel.

For full details, see the Firsts list at LongSwimsDB.