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A Decade of Marathon Swimming

The last 10 years has seen an extraordinary increase in people swimming incredible distances. Here we look back at an awesome decade of marathon swimming.


The first ever Dart 10k. This iconic, river-flow assisted event is now ten years old and has grown from just 200 swimmers to 1,600 swimmers today. Also, this is the year of the first Thames Marathon (nee Bridge to Bridge) a 14km river-flow assisted swim from Henley on Thames to Marlow.


The 10k Marathon Swimming International was hosted at the Serpentine as a test event for London 2012.


The XXX Olympiad comes to London and the Marathon Swim is set in the heart of the capital. The Serpentine lake in Hyde Park is chosen as the venue. Keri-anne Payne, the silver medallist from the inaugural marathon swim Olympic event in Beijing 2008, tries to podium again, but misses out on a medal by just 0.5 second.


Sean Conway becomes the first person to ever swim from Lands End to John O’Groats. His marathon swim took 135 days and Sean grew a beard to prevent jelly fish stings.


The XXXI Olympiad is in Rio and so the venue of the Marathon Swim has to be Copacabana Beach. Team GB’s Jack Burnell is a contender for the men’s race and is in a strong position in the sprint to the finish when he’s impeded and hauled back (allegedly) by Tunisia’s reigning champion Oussama Mellouli. Jack is given a second yellow card and disqualified for lashing out in response.

The Great Swim Series launches a 10k challenge. The 1-mile open water event, launched in 2008, has been increasing its distances since 2011. London’s Royal Docks also sees its first marathon swim with the launch of Dock to Dock 10k event.


A great year for marathon swimming as ‘London’s marathon of swimming’ – Marathon Swims is launched on 24 July and sells out by September. The event hosted at the London Aquatics Centre (the indoor swimming venue in London 2012) reinvents the marathon swim as an indoor event.

The Marathon Swimming World Cup is renamed as FINA Marathon Swim World Series. The elite competition has been running (or swimming) since 2007.

Swim Serpentine – a one-mile swim in the Serpentine, launched the previous year ups the ante and creates the Super Six, a 6-mile combination of 1 mile and 2 mile swims = 9.65km, just 0.35km short of a marathon swim!


Marathon Swims increases from a one-day event to a two-day event and sells out again in record time. Hayley Moore retains her Marathon 10k overall title and breaks the Marathon Swims record with a time of 2:28:53.

The European Championships held in Scotland includes a 5km, 10km and an epic 25km elite race.

The Long Swim - Artic swimmer and ocean advocate Lewis Pugh swims the length (not width) of the English Channel in 50 days covering 330 miles. The wetsuit-less swim was to highlight poor marine protection.

The Great British Swim – Ross Edgeley completes an epic round-Britain swim lasting 157 days and an amazing 1,791 miles.


Marathon Swims returns to the #PoolOfChampions and once again sells out in record time. Hayley Moore retains her Marathon 10k (female) title but Oliver Wilkinson takes the overall title with a new Marathon Swims record of 2:19:50. A second Marathon Swims event is hosted at Sanford Parks Lido, Cheltenham.

Sarah Thomas becomes the first person ever to swim the English Channel four-ways non-stop! Sarah’s amazing swim took 54 hours and covered 130 miles.


Who knows what will be in store for 2020 – but one thing we do know is that marathon swimming will continue to grow, inspire and raise huge amounts of awareness and charity-fundraising.

Happy New Year!

Images thanks to Outdoor Swimming Society, Red Bull, London 2012, Marathon Swims, Sean Conway, Sarah Thomas, Graham Wynn

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