A change in the marathon swimming distance has been announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Marathon Swim is an ever-present event in the Olympic Games since Beijing 2008. The 10k open water event has included memorable, iconic marathon swims in the Serpentine in London and Copacabana Beach, Rio.
The IOC today stated that from 2024 onwards, the Marathon Swim distance will be increased from 10k to 42.195k (26.2 miles). The move is designed to deliver parity in distance between the running and swimming marathons. However, the increase in distance will increase the time taken to complete the challenge by the elite swimmers from around 2 hours to over 8 hours.
Team GB have had some notable successes in the Olympic marathon swimming event with two silvers (Keri-anne Payne and David Davies) and a bronze (Cassie Pattern) since its inception. Currently, Team GB can boast some of the best marathon swimmers in the world including Jack Burnell. Whether the current Team GB Marathon Swim team would consider the step up in distance is uncertain. Unconfirmed reports from the team suggest the news of the distance increase has not been well-received.
French IOC representative, Avril Foulle stated, “From 2024 onwards the running and swimming marathons will have parity of distance. Just as many runners transition from 10k to the full marathon distance, we expect swimmers to do the same. The athletes will have time to adjust their preparations and we look forward to some amazing Olympic marathon swimming races over 42km in the future.”
(images medium.com, detroitnews)